It’s Alberta versus the Avon lady in the latest oil sands-inspired battle.
The Alberta Enterprise Group is urging Canadians to stage a Christmas boycott of Avon Products Inc. after the cosmetics company was named by environmental group Forest Ethics as one of a growing list of corporations working to wean themselves off oil sands.
“Avon has asked its transportation providers to avoid high impact fuels such as those from the tar sands,” Forest Ethics said in a release that cited Concord Transportation and LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics as also coming out against the oil sands.
Forest Ethics has, in the past, overstated the oil sands opposition of companies like Bed Bath & Beyond, and in an interview Wednesday Avon’s vice-president of sustainability and corporate responsibility, Tod Arbogast, made it clear the company is far from actually boycotting bitumen. It is, instead, working to lower emissions, in part as a way to lower costs.
“We’re encouraging different initiatives, whether it’s bio-based fuels, it’s electric-based propulsion or optimization of the truck itself to drive efficiency,” he said. “In the context of the fuel source, we look for and encourage the lower carbon option available.”
But he declined to detail any ways the company was actually avoiding oil sands-derived fuel, which is mixed with other sources of U.S. gasoline and diesel. Asked whether the company’s distributors would boycott regions that are serviced by oil sands supply, he said “no.”
Still, some Albertans aren’t pleased with the ongoing attacks, and Tim Shipton, the president of the Alberta Enterprise Group, a public advocacy group, said there is an irony in Avon switching away from oil sands crude to other supplies that may come from places like Saudi Arabia or Nigeria.
“I just don’t know how that jibes with their corporate mandate for gender equality,” he said alluding to reports of treatment of women in those countries. “It’s high time that Canadians stand up against some of these misinformed companies and their supposed efforts against Canada’s oil sands.”