Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
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The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), created in April 2004, is an "association created by organisations carrying out their activities in and around the entire supply chain for palm oil to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders."
From an RSPO press release:
- In the RSPO, oil palm growers, oil processors, food companies, retailers, NGOs and investors work together towards a global supply of palm oil that is produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
- The Roundtable promotes palm oil production practices that help reduce deforestation, preserve biodiversity, and respect the livelihoods of rural communities in oil-producing countries. It ensures that no new primary forest or other high conservation value areas are sacrificed for palm oil plantations, that plantations apply accepted best practices and that the basic rights and living conditions of millions of plantation workers, smallholders and indigenous people are fully respected.
- At present, more than 340 organizations subscribe to the Roundtable’s principles, representing about half of the world’s palm oil supply. Membership of the Roundtable is growing.
- The first sustainable oil palm plantations were certified in 2008. In November 2009, the first shipment of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil was delivered to ports in Europe. Among the first buyers were Unilever and Sainsbury's Supermarkets. Initial volumes of RSPO-certified palm oil will still be relatively small, but supply will gradually grow over the coming years so that sustainable palm oil can be used in a growing number of products. In due course, the Roundtable aims to see all the world’s palm oil produced in a sustainable way.
Information Provided by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
Note: The following is reprinted from the RSPO Factsheet: Promoting The Growth And Use Of Sustainable Palm Oil
About Palm Oil
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil produced from the fruits of single-stemmed oil palms. The plants can grow 20 meters tall, with leaves up to 5 meters long. They bear clusters of fruit all year long with each fully matured cluster weighing up to 50 kilograms. The fruits contain about 50 percent oil.
Highly efficient oil producers
Oil palms are highly efficient producers of oil, requiring less land than any other oil-producing crop. One hectare planted with oil palm yields about three tonnes of oil per year on average, with the most efficient farms getting more than six tonnes out of a hectare. To produce that much oil from rapeseed (canola), sunflower or soy, up to ten times more land would be required.
Palm oil’s long supply chain
Oil palms are cultivated on large-scale plantations and on small-scale family farms. Smallholders in Indonesia and Malaysia manage about 3 million hectares, or 20 percent of the land used to produce oil.
After harvest, fruits are brought to mills where they are crushed and crude oil is collected. Part of the oil is traded locally; the rest is shipped to regions like China, Europe, India, Pakistan and Japan. There, the oil is refined before manufacturers apply it in all sorts of food and non-food products.
Palm oil applications
Because of its distinct properties, palm oil is perfectly suited for application in a wide range of food and non-food products. For example, palm oil is used to make shampoos, soap and other cosmetics more ‘creamy’. The oil can also be used as an ingredient to margarine, chocolate, ice cream and many other food products. In fact, palm oil is used in about half of all packaged food products in supermarkets today. More recently, palm oil has also been used to make fuels for transportation and power plants.
Palm oil exports support developing countries
Thanks to palm oil’s versatility, world production has grown steadily in recent years. Last year, palm oil accounted for a third of the 130 million tonnes of vegetable oil produced worldwide. Palm oil has recently surpassed soy oil as the world’s most popular vegetable oil.
Malaysia and Indonesia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil; they are also by far the biggest exporters. Other exporters include Nigeria, Thailand, Colombia, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Ivory Coast and Brazil. All are developing countries where palm oil trade has the potential to contribute significantly to local economic growth and poverty reduction. Palm oil production employs and supports more than seven million plantation workers, smallholders and their families.
Of the estimated 29.4 million tonnes of palm oil exported in 2007, 56 percent went to Asia, 16 percent went to the European Union, and 12 percent went to Africa.
The need for sustainable palm oil
Oil palms are highly efficient producers of high-quality, versatile oils. However, they only grow in the tropics, where their cultivation can have negative side effects for local populations or the environment. There is growing demand for palm oil that has been certified by independent auditors to have been produced in a sustainable way.
Social side effects
Among the social side effects of oil palm cultivation have been displacements of communities that used to farm or live in the area and whose legal or customary rights to the land became sources for dispute. Also, there have been reports of plantations that violated the rights of workers, including those to fair payment, safe working conditions or the freedom to unionize.
Environmental side effects
Growing production of palm oil has in some cases led to oil palm cultivation on land that was previously covered with peat-swamp forests, primary forests or other high conservation value areas. Such areas, already under pressure from other factors such as logging, are highly valued for their biodiversity and their capacity to sequester carbon dioxide.
Forest parcels are sometimes cleared by fires, which can burn out of control. The building of roads through forests has been blamed for hindering the migration of endangered species and exposing them to human activities.
Criteria defining sustainable palm oil production
In 2003, many of the world’s biggest palm oil producers and processors, together with retailers and leading environmental and social NGOs such as WWF and Oxfam International, came together in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. According to the Roundtable’s definition, sustainable palm oil production comprises ‘environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, legal and economically viable’ operations.
The Roundtable has drawn up general principles, criteria and specific indicators to measure the sustainability of palm oil production at plantations and mills. They include standards on dealing fairly with employees, small farmers and impacted communities, on expanding production without clearing new pieces of primary forest or other high conservation value areas, and on actively conserving natural resources and biodiversity.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a multistakeholder initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable production of palm oil worldwide. The Roundtable’s more than 340 members include palm growers, oil processors, traders, consumer good manufacturers, retailers, investors and social and environmental NGOs. Through co-operation and open dialogue, they work to put on the market sustainably produced palm oil and to maximize its use.
The journey of the RSPO started in 2003 as an informal co-operation among Aarhus United UK Ltd, WWF, Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, Migros, the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. In 2004, the RSPO legally registered in Switzerland and set up offices in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Jakarta (Indonesia).
Between 2004 and 2008, important milestones were passed. The Roundtable developed a code of conduct and principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil production.
It also devised systems to certify whether palm oil is produced and shipped according to the criteria. The first shipments of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil arrived in Europe by the end of 2008. Initial volumes are relatively small, and it will take some years before sustainable palm oil will find its way to most consumer products.
The Roundtable itself is a work in progress, created to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil. The Roundtable ultimately aims to see all the world’s palm oil produced in a sustainable way.
Governance and membership
Members of the RSPO subscribe to its mission and principles, adhere to its code of conduct, and together set the organization’s course. The Roundtable recognizes seven membership categories, which are all represented in its Executive Board. Membership has grown dramatically. In August 2008, the RSPO had 249 ordinary members:
- 67 Oil palm growers;
- 96 Palm oil processors and/or traders;
- 5 Social/developmental NGOs;
- 13 Environmental/nature conservation NGOs;
- 36 Consumer goods manufacturers;
- 24 Retailers;
- 8 Banks and investors.
Also, 92 organizations had registered as affiliate members. A full and up-to-date listing of Roundtable members can be found at www.rspo.org.
Independent auditors and certification bodies
While the Roundtable sets the principles, criteria and indicators that define sustainable palm oil production, the actual auditing and certification of palm oil plantations and the supply chain is carried out by independent certification bodies approved by the RSPO. The certification systems are described in more detail in seperate technical fact sheets.
World market coverage
About 40 million tonnes of palm oil are produced worldwide. Roundtable members represent about half of that volume, so the RSPO’s efforts will potentially have a large impact. While in due course the RSPO aims to see all palm oil certified, initial volumes of sustainable palm oil will be relatively small.
By the end of 2008, RSPO-certified production capacity is projected to be about 1.5 million tonnes per year, about 4 percent of world production capacity; one year later, at least double that capacity can be expected.
Definitions of sustainable palm oil production
The Roundtable principles for sustainable palm oil production ensure that fundamental rights of previous land owners, local communities, workers and their families are respected and fully taken into account. The principles also ensure that no primary forests or other high conservation value areas have been cleared for oil production since November 2005, and that mills and plantation owners minimize their environmental footprint.
The Roundtable has defined 8 principles and 39 criteria to define sustainable production of palm oil. A full listing of principles, criteria and indicators is given in Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil, a document that can be found under ‘Key documents’ at the Roundtable’s website (www.rspo.org).
- Commitment to transparency
- Compliance with applicable laws and regulations
- Commitment to long-term economic and financial viability
- Use of appropriate best practices by growers and millers
- Environmental responsibility and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity
- Responsible consideration of employees, smallholders and other individuals and communities affected by growers and mills
- Responsible development of new plantings
- Commitment to continuous improvement in key areas of activity
The social criteria are directed at strengthening local poor people’s livelihoods by preventing conflicts about the rights to use land, providing income security, protecting their health and living environment, respecting human and labor rights, and supporting legal compliance. Important examples of social criteria are:
- The right to use the land can be demonstrated, and is not legitimately contested by local communities with demonstrable rights. Use of the land does not diminish legal or customary rights of other users without their free, prior and informed consent.
- Pay and conditions for employees and for employees of contractors meet legal or industry minimum standards and are sufficient to provide decent living wages.
- The employer respects the right of all personnel to form and join trade unions and to bargain collectively. Where laws restrict such rights, the employer facilitates other ways of independent and free association and bargaining.
- An occupational health and safety plan is effectively communicated and implemented. The use of pesticides may not endanger people’s health or the environment. In general, pesticides are only used if there’s a real threat.
- Children are not employed or exploited. Work by children is acceptable only on family farms, under adult supervision, and when not interfering with education. Children are never exposed to hazardous working conditions.
- Smallholders are paid and treated fairly by oil mills.
The environmental criteria are directed at preventing further loss to primary forests or other high conservation value areas, reducing negative impacts on soil, habitats of endangered species and overall biodiversity, and development of water and energy efficient production methods. Important examples of environmental criteria are:
- New plantings since November 2005 have not replaced primary forest or any area required to maintain or enhance one or more ‘high conservation values’.
- Practices minimize and control erosion and degradation of soils.
- The conservation of rare, threatened or endangered species and high conservation value habitats are taken into account.
- Plantations and mills implement and monitor plans to reduce pollution and emissions from greenhouse gases. Waste is reduced, recycled, re-used and disposed of in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
- Use of fire for waste disposal or for land preparation is avoided except in some very specific situations.
- Documents: "Principles and Criteria for sustainable Palm Oil Production (PDF File)" - November 2005
- Website: http://www.rspo.org
- RSPO Seeks to Certify Indonesian Crude Palm Oil, 23 November 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil aims to certify 3 million tons of Indonesian crude palm oil as sustainable, up 50 percent from this year’s original target of 2 million."
- "Green campaigners say palm plantations are some of the biggest threats to the sustainability of rainforests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 85 percent of the world’s supply of the commodity."
- "A producer’s CPO can be certified if it can demonstrate that the production process does not cause undue harm to the environment or society."
- "Worldwide demand for CPO is around 45 million tons, with the biggest markets in India, China and Europe."
- "Indonesia’s Palm Oil Association (Gapki) in October withdrew its membership from RSPO, saying it would focus on helping to develop the government-backed sustainability scheme."
- Sustainable palm oil initiative falters, 20 November 2011 by Mail & Guardian Online: "Environmentalists have warned that an effort to encourage the sustainable production of palm oil launched several years ago has not kept pace with expanding cultivation driven by rising demand."
- "The issue will loom large this week at the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil from November 22 to 24 in key producer Malaysia."
- "Despite some progress, major users of palm oil are not making enough effort to source and buy sustainably produced oil, while incentives for green production remain inadequate, green groups say."
- "Growers produced 5.2-million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) -- accounting for about 10% of world supply -- last year but only about 56% of it was purchased."
- "Environmentalists say the consequences for rainforests in major producers Malaysia and Indonesia -- which account for 85% of world production -- and other producing nations will be dire unless the situation changes."
- "The forest loss contributes to climate change and further imperils threatened species like the orangutan while land disputes between local communities and large palm producers seeking to expand cultivation are rising."
- McDonald's Joins Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil; Commits to Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil, 19 October 2011 by Marketwire: "McDonald's Corporation today announced its membership in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
- "This membership represents significant progress in the company's commitment to source palm oil only from RSPO member companies by the end of this year, and to use only RSPO-certified palm oil in restaurants and pre-cooked chicken and potato products by 2015."
- "McDonald's membership in the RSPO is an extension of its Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC) announced earlier this year."
- "The McDonald's SLMC requires that, over time, its suppliers will only use agricultural raw materials for the company's food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed lands, ensuring the food served in its restaurants around the world is sourced from certified sustainable sources."
- "Based on a thorough analysis conducted in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to identify the top raw materials which have the most potential sustainability impacts, McDonald's SLMC actions initially are focused on Beef, Poultry, Coffee, Palm Oil and fiber for Packaging."
- Indonesia’s withdrawal puts Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on shaky ground, 5 October 2011 by The Star Online: "The jury is still out on the implications of Indonesia's withdrawal of its membership from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
- "On the one hand, some industry observers reckon the absence of Indonesia, being a sizeable producer, can derail the workings of RPSO."
- "But others think that as long as major palm oil producers such as Sime Darby Bhd and Wilmar International are still members of RSPO, there should be no negative impact on the grouping."
- "It is unclear if the decision by GAPKI will have any bearing on the Malaysia Palm Oil Association's (MPOA) stand on RSPO."
- "Fadhil Hasan, the executive director of GAPKI, was quoted as saying the association decided to resign because Indonesia already had the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO)."
- "RSPO has just recently achieved one million hectares of certified production area around the world. Malaysia and Indonesia contribute 88% of total certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). Out of this, Indonesia produces 40% of global CSPO, second to Malaysia with 48% of production."
- Sustainable Palm Oil Milestone Reached Ahead of Major WWF Evaluation, 1 September 2011 by Food Ingredients First: "The world’s largest sustainable palm oil body reached a major milestone last week in its on-going efforts to halt deforestation and bring sustainable palm oil to market – the millionth hectare of plantations has just been certified, an area roughly equivalent in size to the nation of Jamaica."
- "The result comes as WWF prepares its second installment of the WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard, which tracks the progress of major brands on their commitments and actions on buying and using sustainable palm."
- "Plantations owned by Brazil-based Agropalma, a leading producer of palm oil in South America, recently achieved certification against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard, pushing the area of certified palm oil plantations past the 1 million hectare mark."
- "WWF worked with a group of NGOs and the palm oil industry to set up the RSPO in 2003. Certified sustainable palm oil has been available since November 2008, and provides assurance that valuable tropical forests have not been cleared and that environmental and social safeguards have been met during the production of the palm oil."
- Cargill Sets Sights on Worldwide Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020, 13 July 2011 by GreenBiz.com: "Agribusiness giant Cargill plans to only offer palm oil -- an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies and numerous other foods -- that is certified sustainable in select countries by 2015 and worldwide by 2020."
- "Cargill aims to have all of the palm oil it sells in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) within the next four years."
- "Cargill then plans for all palm oil sold in China, India and elsewhere to be RSPO-certified by 2020."
- "The first goal, however, excludes palm kernel oil, which is produced from the same oil palm trees that palm oil comes from and is used in food products, soaps and other goods."
- "The Rainforest Action Network, which has been dogging Cargill about its palm oil use, says that while the goals are a good start, the deadlines are too far away, RSPO certification is weak and palm kernel oil shouldn't be left out."
- "Cargill says, though, that it's trying to be realistic with its goals, and is aiming for achievable targets."
- Cargill Smallholders Receive First Premiums for RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, 27 June 2011 by PR Newswire: "Smallholders at Cargill's oil palm plantation, PT Hindoli, today received their first premiums for the certified palm oil they produced."
- "The smallholders were first to be certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Smallholder Principles & Criteria in late 2010."
- "'The premium received by our smallholders today shows that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the livelihoods of rural farmers,' said Anthony Yeow, president director of PT Hindoli."
- "The smallholders receiving more than IDR 870 million (approximately US$100,000) in combined premiums today are organized in 17 cooperatives with 17,594 hectares of planted oil palm as part of Cargill's plantation operations. PT Hindoli's crushing mills in South Sumatra process fresh fruit bunches from its own oil palm estates as well as those purchased from the smallholders' scheme."
- "Cargill's own palm estates at PT Hindoli received certification from both RSPO and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and the company is currently working towards RSPO certification for its other palm plantations, PT Harapan Sawit Lestari and PT Indo Sawit Kekal."
- Palm oil threatens New Guinea's species says study: how to buy sustainably, 27 June 2011 by The Independent: "A new report by environmental organization WWF examines the threat faced by the unique species of New Guinea, over 1,000 of which were discovered as recently as 1998-2008."
- "The report identifies the production of palm oil as one of the major threats facing the wildlife of New Guinea; however there are several steps consumers can take to ensure that foods containing palm oil come from sustainable sources."
- "To combat the threat posed to these species and others around the world by continuing unsustainable production of palm oil, consumers can ensure they buy from companies registered with RSPO."
- "The RSPO, or Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil, provides certification to companies which produce palm oil from sustainable resources and ensures that all aspects of the production are environmentally friendly."
- "Consumers can find retailers in their country selling products made with RSPO certified palm oil by searching the organization's website for certified companies by type, country, and name."
- GreenPalm defends palm oil certificate trading, 24 May 2011 by FoodNavigator.com: "Earlier this month, the supplier of the food, cosmetics and homecare product ingredient, New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), said a deal to increase the supply of sustainably certified segregated palm oil (CSPO) into Europe could herald the demise of the GreenPalm certification system."
- "Alan Chaytor, executive director of NBPOL, said that many industry players 'view green certificates with a great deal of suspicion as to what effect, if any, purchasing them has on making the palm oil industry sustainable.'"
- "But Bob Norman, general manger of GreenPalm has retaliated, saying: 'The NBPOL comments were not in the spirit of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).'"
- "The RSPO-approved GreenPalm certificate trading scheme, argues Norman, enables RSPO certified producers to earn more – $14m in additional income - for their efforts, wherever they are in the world and, crucially, not whether they export to Europe."
- "Most palm oil is produced through processes that see large quantities from multiple sources mixed to achieve the critical mass practical for refining, and then again for transportation."
- "Moreover, in relation to the allegations by NBPOL that the offset scheme was 'unaudited and therefore open to abuse,' Norman stressed that, on the contrary, every aspect of the GreenPalm programme is RSPO audited and fully transparent, with 'strong and clear rules.'"
- RSPO to address issues with launch of trademark, 25 April 2011 by The Star Online: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) hopes to address some of the strategic thinking and considerations behind the Truth in Labelling – Palm Oil Bill 2011 in Australia via the launch of the RSPO trademark slated by the middle of this year, said RSPO secretary-general Darrel Webber."
- "The purpose of the Act is to ensure that consumers have clear and accurate information about the inclusion of palm oil in foods; and to encourage the use of certified sustainable palm oil to promote protection of wildlife habitats."
- "While RSPO supports the latter objective, distinguishing palm oil as the only edible oil that requires labelling will imply that other edible oils do not face similar challenges."
- "'Such a labelling exercise that singles out palm oil may only serve to ostracise agricultural farmers in developing countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, South America and West Africa, whose key source of income comes from palm oil.'"
- Malaysian palm oil giant in fight with forest people gets rebuke from RSPO, 6 April 2011 by Mongabay.com: "RSPO said IOI Corp breached 'two core membership mandates and obligations' on land conflict and conversion of high conservation forest into oil palm plantations. IOI Corp will have 28 days to deliver a proposal to resolve the outstanding issues."
- "Should it fail to do so by May 2, 2011, RSPO told IOI it will consider 'further sanctions against your company, which may include the suspension of your license for new transactions involving Certified Sustainable Palm Oil materials including GreenPalm certificates.'"
- "Such a move could cost IOI dearly in the marketplace. In 2009 and 2010, PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (PT SMART), an Indonesian subsidiary of Golden Agri Resources, lost a number of major customers after it was found to be clearing carbon-dense peatlands and rainforests in Indonesian Borneo."
- "The rebuke from RSPO comes just days after the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) highlighted the struggle between the people of Long Teran Kenan and IOI over two plantations on native lands in Baram, Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo."
- Palm oil company gives up land contested by local communities as part of sustainability pledge, 21 March 2011 by MongaBay.com: "The company PT Agro Wiratama, a subsidiary of the Musim Mas group, will give 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) back to the community. The decision is a direct result of Agro Wiratama's RSPO membership, which now requires member companies to publicly announce plans to expand their operations."
- "Until now, palm oil expansion has at times resulted in social conflict between traditional forest users — often indigenous people and small-scale farmers — and companies granted concessions by the government (most forest land is state-owned in Indonesia, independently of who actually uses it)."
- "Forest Peoples Programme, together with Gemawan, note that Agro Wiratama's decision has implications for other palm oil companies operating in Sambas Regency: 17 of them are members of RSPO."
- "More than 3,000 land conflicts between palm oil developers and local communities in Indonesia have been registered with the country's National Land Agency."
- "With more than 8 million hectares of oil palm plantations, Indonesia accounts for more than 40 percent of global palm oil production. But expansion has had a high environmental cost: millions of hectares of forest and peatland have been cleared in the name of palm oil production."
- McDonald's Commits to 100% Certified Palm Oil By 2015, 11 March 2011 by SustainableBusiness.com: "McDonald's Corporation has committed to source only palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2015."
- "The commitment is part of a larger Sustainable Land Management Commitment (SLMC) announced in conjunction with the release of McDonald's 2010 Worldwide Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report."
- "The SLMC requires that, over time, McDonald's suppliers will only use agricultural raw materials for the company's food and packaging that originate from sustainably-managed land."
- "McDonald's actions initially will be focused on five raw material priorities - Beef, Poultry, Coffee, Palm Oil and Packaging."
- "McDonald's also joined the Sustainability Consortium--an independent organization dedicated to implementing measurable progress based on life-cycle science."
- Palm oil giant vows to spare most valuable Indonesian rainforest, 9 February 2011 by The Guardian: "Golden Agri-Resources Limited has committed itself to protecting forests and peatlands with a high level of biodiversity, or which provide major carbon sinks, as part of an agreement with conservation group the Forest Trust."
- "However, the agreement announced on Wednesday will still leave GAR free to exploit other areas of forest, and land that is judged to be of lower conservation value."
- "Scott Poynton, executive director of the Forest Trust, said 'It's about going to the root causes of deforestation – we have shown that the destruction of forests is anchored deeply in the supply chains of the products we consume in industrialised nations, and we are showing we can do something about that.'"
- He said pressure from Nestlé, which last year drew up a set of sustainability guidelines and signalled that it would not accept palm oil from sources connected to deforestation, had been instrumental in bringing GAR to the table."
- "Experts in Indonesia will be asked to judge whether GAR forests have "high conservation value" under guidance from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a coalition of the palm oil industry and conservation groups."
- Malaysian palm oil destroying forests, report warns, 2 February 2011 by the Guardian: "Study by Wetlands International claims level of palm oil-related deforestation in Malaysia is higher than previously thought."
- "The report claims that between 2005 and 2010, almost 353,000 hectares of peat swamp forests were cleared – a third of Malaysia's total – largely for palm oil production."
- "The clearing, draining and burning of peat swamp forests is responsible for about 10 per cent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Wetlands International."
- "Palm oil firms in Malaysia and Indonesia are under increasing pressure by major Western retailers and consumer goods brands, many of which use palm oil in their products, to halt the expansion of plantations that lead to forest clearance."
- "Some Malaysian palm oil producers have also joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but strong demand from India and China for unsustainably sourced oil means others can avoid doing so without necessarily harming their market share."
- Palm Oil Plantations Embrace Biodiversity In Attempt To Change Environmentally Destructive Reputation, 20 January 2011 by The Huffington Post: "Palm oil plantations carry a history of controversy. The cash crop is used for fuel and food, but at the same time, it destroys rainforests. Also, compared to diverse forests, monoculture plantations do not trap greenhouse gases as efficiently."
- "These challenges are no more visible than on the United International Enterprises Estate, located in the Majung District of Malaysia. The plantation has over 1.4 million trees. Unfortunately, they are all the same."
- "A nature reserve has been created on the plantation, populated by rare trees. The manager's goal is to increase the plant diversity to 500 plant variations."
- "The plantation is the first to be certified by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil Production, a group working to make palm oil more eco-friendly."
- RSPO calls for faster market uptake of sustainable palm oil, 10 January 2011 by ConfectionaryNews.com: "Jan Kees Vis, RSPO executive board president, said that many companies have pledged to switch to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil fully by 2015, but until then, it will also be important that users of palm oil such as the leading confectionery and food manufacturers match a rising supply with rising market demand."
- "The volume of actual RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil on the market jumped from 1.3m tonnes in 2009 to 2.3m tonnes in 2010. Sales of sustainable palm oil more than tripled from 0.4m tonnes in 2009 to about 1.3m tonnes in 2010."
- "Nestlé, which uses the ingredient in its Kit Kat and Aero bars along with its Quality Street range, bolstered its sustainable palm oil commitments in May 2010 by partnering with The Forest Trust (TFT)."
- "In November last year it was announced that all palm oil used in The Netherlands will be certified by the RSPO by 2015, as all the suppliers and buyers in the Dutch market have signed a manifesto and pledged to work towards this goal."
- Netherlands Will Only Use Certified Sustainable Palm Oil by 2015 - First National-Level Commitment, 5 November 2010 by TreeHugger: "In a big boost for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification standard, the Netherlands has committed to only using sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015--and becomes the first nation to do so. Dutch businesses are Europe's largest importer and exporter of palm oil (about 2 million tons annually) with much of it going into products sold throughout the European Union."
- "Here's more: Manifesto of the Task Force Sustainable Palm Oil (PDF)."
- World Bank Group publishes draft framework for sustainable palm oil, 27 July 2010 by Cosmetics Design: "The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have released a draft framework for engagement in the palm oil sector, in the hope of promoting positive change."
- "In the draft document, the World Bank Group, one of the biggest sources of funding for developing countries, has set out the possible ways it can help move the sector onto a more sustainable footing."
- "The Group proposes action on four major themes – policy and regulatory environment, sustainable private sector investment, benefit sharing with small holders and communities, and sustainability codes of practice."
- "Actions proposed include working with governments to design appropriate policy institutions, strengthen small holder producer organizations and improve smallholder access to finance, as well as working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in order to strengthen its sustainable palm oil certification program."
- Download the consultation draft of the document, The World Bank Group’s Framework for Engagement in the Palm Oil Sector.
- Greener palm oil arrives in the United States, 29 June 2010 by Mongabay.com: "The first shipment of palm oil certified under sustainability criteria [has] arrived in the United States, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
- "AAK, a vegetable oils and fats manufacturer based in Malmo, Sweden, announced the arrival of the first shipment of segregated RSPO-certified palm oil to its refinery in Port Newark, New Jersey. Segregated RSPO-certified palm oil has been kept separate from conventional palm oil throughout the supply chain. Most 'sustainable' palm oil users don't actually use segregated certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), Instead they offset conventional palm oil buy purchasing the equivalent amount of GreenPalm certificates, which represent real CSPO sold elsewhere as conventional palm oil."
- "The RSPO also announced that daily production of CSPO has now surpassed 5,000 metric tons per day."
- "Some critics say the [RSPO] lacks oversight, sets a low bar for compliance, and is underfunded. Supporters argue that RSPO is still a relatively new initiative that needs more time to prove itself."
- Success of Palm Oil Brings Plantations Under Pressure to Preserve Habitats , 17 September 2009 by New York Times: Each year, the oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia "produce millions of tons of palm oil, which has soared in popularity since the 1970s and is now found in foods like margarine, potato chips and chocolate, as well as in soap, cosmetics and biofuel."
- "But the palm plantations are in the cross hairs of consumer groups and corporations in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United States. Echoing the longstanding concerns of environmental groups, they say palm oil producers continue to fell large tracts of forest to make way for plantations, destroying habitat for endangered species like the orangutan."
- "The increasingly vocal protests are not what the industry expected five years after it began developing a certification system for producing environmentally sustainable palm oil. In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed, representing palm oil producers; consumer goods manufacturers including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg; environmental groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature; and social and development organizations."
- "The roundtable requires plantations to develop plans to protect rare or endangered species on their land and to assess whether there are cultural relics that need to be preserved."
- Controversial palm-oil plan may save the orang-utan, 22 July 2009 by New Scientist: Orang-utan "researchers and conservationists in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, may have to do what had until recently been unthinkable: join forces with the palm oil industry whose plantations have eaten into much of the orang-utan's habitat. October this year will see an unprecedented meeting of Malaysia's palm oil producers, conservationists and local government to figure out how to protect the world's last orang-utans."
- "Such collaborations will be especially important given the poor start for the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), set up in 2002, which is supposed to address the issues of environmental damage and wildlife conflict by encouraging producers to ensure their plantations are certified as sustainable."
- "The conservation group WWF wants palm oil to be 100 per cent sustainable by 2015, but the initial results have been dispiriting. A WWF report released in May showed that just 1 per cent of the 1.3 million tonnes of sustainable palm oil produced since November 2008 had been sold - in part because it is more expensive."
- Sustainable palm oil gets boost in China, 14 July 2009 by WWF: "Major China-based producers and users of palm oil have announced they intend to provide more support for sustainable palm oil, an important boost for efforts to halt tropical deforestation."
- "The public statement, made at the 2nd International Oil and Fats Summit in Beijing on July 9, committed the companies to 'support the promotion, procurement and use of sustainable palm oil in China,' as well as 'support the production of sustainable palm oil through any investments in producing countries.'"
- "China is currently the world's largest importer of palm oil, accounting for one third of all global trade. Increasing demand for palm oil, which is used in everything from soap to chocolate bars, is causing considerable damage to fragile rainforest environments, threatening endangered species like tigers, and contributing to global climate change."
- "Palm oil producers and buyers making the statement included Wilmar International, IOI Corperation, KLK Berhad, Kulim Malaysia Berhad, Asia Agri., Premier Foods PLC and Unilever PLC. Oxfam International, TransAsia Lawyers, and Solidaridad China were signatories."
- Significant rise in RSPO-certified palm oil in EU, 26 June 2009 by Commodity Online: "The volume of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil imported in European Union markets have increased significantly as producers in South East Asia comply with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the multi-stakeholder association working to make all palm oil production sustainable. The equivalent of more than one third of all palm oil imported into the EU could now be sold as ‘sustainable’..."
- "RSPO rules and audits on the ground guarantee that social and environmental standards were met during the production of certified sustainable palm oil. For example, producers need to protect the habitats of endangered species and no new primary forests can be cut for oil palm plantations. The rights of local communities, smallholders and workers have to be respected as well..."
- CPO Producers Say Green Efforts Not Paying Off, 31 May 2009 by JakartaGlobe: "While many palm oil plantations and farmers are struggling to get certificates proving their palm oil is produced in a sustainable manner, others that have the certificates are complaining that buyers in Europe don’t want to buy their products because they are too expensive."
- "When the first batch of RSPO-certified palm oil arrived in Europe in November 2008, the company involved, Malaysia-based United Plantations, was accused by environmental organizations Greenpeace and Wetlands International of not actually meeting the RSPO’s requirements...Greenpeace maintains that the roundtable’s system fails to adequately address issues like deforestation, peatland clearance and other land-related conflicts."
- "The EU is in the process of requiring all palm oil producers to certify both crude palm oil and derivative products. Companies that do not obtain certification by 2010 will not be allowed to sell to EU countries."
- "Green" palm planters struggling to find buyers, 30 May 2009 by Alibaba.com: "JAKARTA, May 27 - Palm oil planters in the world's top two producers Indonesia and Malaysia are struggling to find buyers for their eco-friendly palm oil...threatening to slow momentum."
- "Under fire from green groups and some Western consumers, the palm oil industry established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004 to develop an ethical certification system that includes commitments to preserve rainforests and wildlife."
- "...the industry had so far sold only 15,000 tonnes of certified green palm oil since the first shipment last November while output might have reached around 600,000 tonnes."
- "The issue of 'green' palm remains contentious and some conservation groups argue that the current voluntary rules are not effective in protecting the environment."
Multi-stakeholder initiatives: Responsible Commodities Initiative, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
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