The global sportswear company Nike has announced that it is to stop buying leather from the Amazon region of Brazil, following concerns that its shoes and trainers could be driving the destruction of the world's largest rainforest and contributing to climate change.
The move follows a Greenpeace report, released in June, which exposed how cattle hides from deforested areas were contaminating the supply chains of a number of global brands including Nike, Clarks, Adidas and Reebok. Deforestation for cattle ranching in Brazil alone is now the biggest driver of deforestation anywhere in the world.
A Nike spokesman will release the new company policy at their headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon at 1700 UK time. A host of British sports stars are sponsored by Nike and wear their products, including Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, and the entire English Rugby Union team.
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace forest campaigner Sarah Shoraka said:
"Nike has recognised that trampling over the Amazon rainforest to produce leather for its trainers is an unacceptable way of doing business. Preparing land for cattle ranching is now the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world and a major driver of climate change.
"Nike has taken a bold step, and now we need to see other companies follow their lead."
The Greenpeace report has already caused significant movement within the Brazilian cattle industry, and it is hoped that Nike's decision will help pave the way for an industry wide moratorium on the destruction of forests for cattle ranching. Greenpeace is demanding that other shoe companies such as Reebok, Clarks and Adidas follow Nike's lead and support a moratorium.
The policy document that Nike signed today requires all of its suppliers "to certify that they are supplying leather for Nike Inc. products from cattle raised outside the Amazon biome." This policy will be in place until Nike feels that a reliable system of governance -with full traceability of cattle products which includes the guarantee that those products are not causing deforestation - in place in the Amazon.
These suppliers then have until July 2010 to create a fully traceable supply system, which will provide reliable proof that any leather used for Nike shoes has not been sourced from recently deforested areas.
The Greenpeace report, entitled Slaughtering the Amazon was released on June 1st. It can be viewed at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/slaughtering-the-amazon
The Nike policy is available to view at http://www.nikebiz.com/media/pr/2009/07/22_AmazonLeatherPolicy.html