Samsung Breaks Business Ties with Notorious Indonesian Rainforest Destroyer Korindo

Move follows Galaxy Note 8 Online campaign by Mighty Earth and SumOfUs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 12, 2017

Washington DC— Environmental NGO Mighty Earth and consumer group SumOfUs announced victory today as Samsung declared that it has no plans to pursue a joint venture or any business with the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate, Korindo. The announcement comes on the heels of a two-month intensive online campaign by Mighty Earth and SumOfUs, calling on Samsung to drop the joint venture it had announced or any business partnership with Korindo due to Korindo’s egregious rainforest destruction on its palm oil plantations in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia, which was documented by Mighty Earth in a report and field investigation last year (1).  

The campaign was launched in response to widespread news coverage in Korean media outlets in June that a Samsung IT subsidiary, Samsung SDS, and Korindo were pursuing a joint venture related to logistics in Indonesia. One of the articles in the Korea Times featured a photo of executives from both companies shaking hands in front of a banner showcasing their corporate logos (2).

“Samsung is doing the right thing by dropping ties with the notorious deforester Korindo,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director with Mighty Earth. “Korindo’s deforestation has put its business at risk in many different sectors, not just palm oil. We hope Korindo wakes up to the reality that even from a business perspective, it can’t continue to allow deforestation.”

In July, more than 73,000 people, including 15,000 Samsung customers, signed a petition to Samsung launched by SumOfUs.org (3). The petition signatures were hand delivered by Mighty Earth to Samsung’s main office in Seoul, where Mighty Earth met with executives from Samsung’s Corporate Social Responsibility team. The number of petition signatures to Samsung has since grown to over 188,500 due to a petition launched by Rainforest Rescue (4).

Last month, Mighty Earth and SumOfUs carried out a week of action (5) surrounding the August 23rd launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, in which over 2,000 Samsung customers sent emails to Samsung from their Samsung devices, over 10,000 people took action online, and nearly one million people viewed online ads about Samsung’s connection to rainforest destruction (6).   

“I own two of your TVs and recently switched my Galaxy back to Apple because of your Korindo involvement,” said one of the many personalized emails to Samsung.  “As long as you continue to have an environmentally irresponsible ethos I will not be a customer, and I will share that with my friends and on social media.”

Samsung SDS’s CEO informed Mighty Earth in a letter dated August 31st, “that we [Samsung SDS] do not have any plans to develop a business between the two companies”.

“We are glad that Samsung took the messages from its customers to heart,” said Fatah Sadaoui, Campaign Manager with SumOfUs.  “It was clear from the overwhelming response to our petition that people expect a company with as big a brand name and global reach as Samsung to maintain high standards of environmental and social responsibility for its own business and its business partners. I think Samsung was smart to work to boost its global reputation by severing ties with Korindo.”

While Samsung has dropped its business with Korindo, Mighty Earth and SumOfUs call on the company to clean up its own palm oil operations. Samsung owns two palm oil plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia as part of a joint venture with an Indonesian palm oil company called Ganda Group. In December 2016, a group of Korean human rights lawyers with the organization Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) conducted a field investigation into Samsung’s palm oil plantations and documented egregious labor and community rights violations (7). In addition, Ganda Group is infamous for using violence against villagers (8), and is currently driving massive deforestation in Papua, Indonesia (9).  

“Samsung has taken the first step to delink its business from rainforest destruction. Now it must go all the way,” explained Lapidus. “Samsung needs to remedy its human rights abuses on its own palm oil plantations and require its joint venture partner, Ganda Group, to adopt a strict forest conservation policy aligned with the industry standard for responsible production.”  

“Fixing its palm oil problem would be a great way for Samsung to begin to restore trust in its brand,” remarked Sadaoui.

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Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change. We work in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa, and North America to drive large-scale action towards environmentally responsible agriculture that protects native ecosystems, wildlife, and water, and respects local community rights.  Mighty Earth’s global team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at http://www.mightyearth.org/.

SumOfUs.org is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers all around the world, standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy.

CONTACTS:

Marisa Bellantonio, [email protected], 203-479-2026

Yasmina Dardari, [email protected], 407-922-8149

Sample social media and google search ads that ran during the August week of action:

Notes to the editor:

  1. Mighty Earth, Burning Paradise: Palm Oil in the Land of the Tree Kangaroo, September 2016. www.MightyEarth.org/BurningParadise
  2. Herh, Michael, “Samsung SDS Accelerates Logistic BPO Business In Indonesia”, Business Korea, June 20, 2017: http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/18403-business-process-outsourcing-samsung-sds-accelerates-logistic-bpo-business; Seung-woo, Kang, “Samsung SDS Joins Hands With Korindo”, Korea Times, June 19, 2017: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2017/06/133_231536.html
  3. SumOfUs, “Samsung, get out of conflict palm oil”. https://actions.sumofus.org/a/samsung-get-out-of-conflict-palm-oil
  4. Rainforest Rescue, “Samsung, get out of Papua’s rainforests,”
    www.rainforest-rescue.org/petitions/1105/samsung-get-out-of-papuas-rainforests#letter
  5. www.MightyEarth.org/Samsung
  6. View examples of the social media and google search ads at
    www.MightyEarth.org/SamsungHangsUpOnKorindo
  7. Korea Transnational Corporations Watch, Interim Report on Negative Human Rights Impact of Samsung C&T in Palm Oil Plantations In Indonesia, Field Investigation Report, December 28, 2016.  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By8pRnkpzbHXa01NR09RVkkzUzQ/view
  8. Parker, Diana, “Indonesian palm oil company demolishes homes and evicts villagers in week long raid,” Mongabay, December 14, 2013. https://news.mongabay.com/2013/12/indonesian-palm-oil-company-demolishes-homes-and-evicts-villagers-in-week-long-raid/
  9. Forest Hints, “Papua HCS Forests Remain Source of Palm Oil Expansion”, September 12, 2017, http://www.foresthints.news/papua-hcs-forests-remain-source-of-palm-oil-expansion

Image Credit: Bustar Maitar/Mighty