oil sands, boycott, campaign, tar, superdrug, hitachi, barclays, nouvelle, 3, royal bank of scotland, caterpillar, liebherr, hsbc, Lycra


30 June 2009

High Street Brands linked to Tar Sands Climate Catastrophe – Ethical Consumer launches boycott campaign


Leading UK brands, including Superdrug, Nouvelle recycled toilet paper and 3 mobile are owned by companies profiting from the environmentally devastating exploitation of the Canadian tar sands for oil. HSBC, RBS and Barclays are also all playing a significant role in financing tar sands mining.

Ethical Consumer is calling for a boycott of brands owned by companies who are profiting from the climate change timebomb of the tar sands exploitation.

Tar sands exploitation produces carbon emissions between 2.5 to 8 times higher than conventional oil extraction. That’s before even considering emissions from the end user.


Oil derived from the tar sands threatens to unleash far more CO2  into the atmosphere than the planet can possibly cope with. If all of the permits for extraction granted by the Canadian Government are fulfilled, there would be a hike in CO2 from this alone that would be enough to push the world past the 2 degrees C threshold that scientists warn is likely to precipitate catastrophic climate change.


In addition, production involves massive use of water resources and the deforestation and ecological destruction of the pristine forest and wetland environment of Alberta.


It’s not just nature that’s suffering. Indigenous communities who live and fish downstream from the tar sands are raising concerns around the possible health risks posed by toxicity levels in local water and fish.

Top ten brands named and shamed

   1. Superdrug  (Hutchison Whampoa)
   2. Nouvelle paper products  (Koch Industries Inc)
   3. 3’ mobile phone network  (Hutchison Whampoa)
   4. Barclays
   5. HSBC
   6. Royal Bank of Scotland
   7. Caterpillar
   8. Hitachi
   9. Liebherr Fridges
  10. Lycra  (Koch Industries Inc)


More info

 Political cartoonist Polyp has provided Ethical Consumer’s campaign with subverted spin on Superdrug’s logo.

More information on Ethical Consumer’s boycott campaign and on the tar sands.

Superdrug and the mobile phone brand ‘3’ are owned by subsidiaries of Hong Kong company Hutchison Whampoa, which also owns Husky Energy Ltd.  In 2006 Husky had a total of 510,890 acres of oil sands leases and in 2007 signed an agreement with BP for a 50/50 partnership to develop the Sunrise oil sands project.

Koch Industries Inc subsidiaries produce a number of household products, including Nouvelle recycled toilet paper and LYCRA fibres.  Koch Industries is deeply entrenched in the tar sands, primarily through its subsidiary Flint Hills Resources.  Another subsidiary company has constructed, and yet another one operates, a pipeline which carries oil from Alberta to Minnesota, USA.  Koch has a very sketchy track record as far as environmental responsibility goes.  In 2000 alone, more than 310 spills from its pipelines and oil facilities in the USA resulted in the company being fined $35 million dollars. [1]

Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland are three of the banking groups named as having played the most significant role in financing the tar sands in the Greenpeace / Platform publication ‘BP and Shell: Rising Risks in Tar Sands Investments’. 

Caterpillar, Hitachi and Liebherr-International AG all make specialised trucks capable of shifting up to 400 tonnes of tar sands per load.


Two related Early Day Motions (EDMs) have been tabled in Parliament that people can lobby their MPs to sign:  Early Day Motion 1250 - Reporting on Carbon Liabilities and Early Day Motion 880: RBS and Climate Change.


[1] ‘Enbridge, Koch, and Tar Sands Recovery: Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory?’, 30th January 2008, [viewed 14/5/09]

Press enquiries:
Dan Welch 0161 226 2929 dan@ethicalconsumer.org. Out of hours 07715 558 465