Shareholders Put Squeeze On Charmin, Push P&G To Improve On Deforestation Issues (

Procter & Gamble shareholders overwhelmingly approved a proposal urging the company to issue a report that increases its efforts to eliminate deforestation, with the implication that more needs to be done.

The vote was pegged a major victory for environmentalists concerned about P&G’s policies. Because of the company’s size and stature worldwide, it could send a loud statement to other consumer packaged goods manufacturers that paying attention to environmental issues is becoming a real factor with the public and Wall Street.

The shareholder proposal, sponsored by the environmentally sensitive Green Century Equity Fund, passed Tuesday with over two-thirds of investors’ votes — -and over the recommendation to vote against it from P&G’s board.

BlackRock Inc., which Bloomberg says is the company’s second largest investor, owning 6.6% of P&G’s shares, also supported the proposal.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and others criticize P&G for destroying boreal virgin forests in Canada harvested to make for Charmin toilet tissue, while also disrupting indigenous populations living there. In Malaysia, where P&G gets palm oil used in Olay and other products, the company has been linked to suppliers that use forced labor.

“It is rare that investors ignore the advice of corporate leadership in such an overwhelming fashion” said NRDC’s Shelly Vinyard, the manager of the organization’s campaign to defend the world’s boreal forests. “But by siding with concerned citizens, environmental and human rights organizations, the biggest asset managers are sending a strong message that P&G must do more.”

The company’s advice for shareholders to reject the measure pointed to a lengthy list of efforts toward sustainability.

“Given the Company’s significant existing efforts, comprehensive policies, and extensive voluntary reporting on our work toward responsible forestry and palm oil in our supply chain, the Board of Directors believes that the proponent’s proposal would not substantially add to the Company’s reporting or to our progress,” it said in its recommendation to reject the proposal. P&Gt has boasted that Charmin carries the Forest Stewardship Seal, certifying it’s grown and harvested in an ecologically sensitive manner.
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