Recently, WWF released their latest scorecard on Palm Oil – this tracks how well big brand companies are keeping to their commitments to use sustainable palm oil in their products. WWF checked 137 companies in developed markets including retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and food service companies. These included household names such as Carrefour, L’Oreal, McDonald’s and Nestlé.
The criteria for scoring points includes whether companies had joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); had committed to and were buying sustainable palm oil; and transparency about their efforts. Significantly, more than half of the companies had targeted 2015 as the year they would have 100 percent certified palm oil in their products.
WWF and the Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil are currently preparing a similar scorecard for companies in Singapore and the region, which will be released in the middle of next year.
Sustainable Palm Oil is readily available
On the whole, the WWF scorecard found that some companies, even medium-sized ones had made good on their promise to use sustainable palm oil. A few were still lagging behind, but the general trend is a move towards certified sustainable palm oil.
For GAR this is welcome news. GAR believes that economic growth, social advancement and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand. This means that as a business it matters whether our efforts to produce sustainable palm oil are paying off and that there is real and growing demand for it.
We’ve been RSPO members since 2011, and our subsidiary PT SMART was an even earlier adopter, joining RSPO in 2005. We’re currently on track to certify all our production under RSPO. To date we’ve certified 263,777 hectares of plantations including smallholder plantations of 50,874 hectares, 29 mills, five kernel crushing plants, four refineries, six bulking stations and one oleochemical plant have received RSPO certification. And we expect to complete the RSPO certification process for all operations begun prior to 2010, by 2020.
The results of the WWF Scorecard marks progress by major brands to buy certified palm oil and seems to indicate that consumer concerns and pressure are making a mark.
However WWF noted that some big companies are still lagging behind. And even with those who are sourcing certified sustainable palm oil, more can be done. Right now many are still using trading certificates to achieve their targets. WWF is pushing them to move towards sourcing truly sustainable palm oil – that is directly related to the physical supply chain.
We’ve seen demand for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) grow rapidly in the last few years, and currently all our available segregated supply is taken up. This is a confirmation that investing in sustainable palm oil production is the right path for us in the long term.
But while we’ve been willing to invest in certified sustainable palm oil and help our plasma smallholders get RSPO certification, many plantation companies and small independent farmers are still unwilling or unable to meet the exacting standards for RSPO certification. As this takes a serious investment of resources, many are still waiting to be convinced that getting this sort of certification will really benefit them.
Time for all to walk the talk
So we’re adding our voice to WWF’s and issuing a call to action.
To convince all companies and growers of palm oil including small farmers that there is a tangible payoff for making the extra effort to meet RSPO requirements, all companies who’ve committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil need to show they are willing to walk the talk. Only when the market truly supports sustainable palm oil products, can we ensure that palm oil is really being grown the right way.