Monday, May 18, 2009

Action to boost sustainable palm oil - One World

12/05/2009 (One World) - Only one percent of the sustainable palm oil available on the market has been bought, according to new figures released by the WWF today (Tuesday May 12).

In a bid to speed up this “sluggish performance”, WWF will assess the world’s major users of palm oil over the next six months and publish a Palm Oil Buyer’s Scorecard highlighting companies that support sustainable palm oil and exposing those who have not fulfilled their commitments to buy it.

WWF helped set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as an international body for the industry to develop sustainability standards.

Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) 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 palm oil. Yet further production will hinge on manufacturers and retailers committing to buy what’s available.

“So far around 1.3 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil has been produced by RSPO member plantation companies, but less than 15,000 tonnes has been sold as certified,” said Rodney Taylor, Director of WWF International’s Forests Programme. “This sluggish demand from palm oil buyers, such as supermarkets, food and cosmetic manufacturers, could undermine the success of the RSPO and threatens the remaining natural tropical forests of Southeast Asia, as well as other forests where oil palm is set to expand, such as the Amazon.”

But it is not all bad news. WWF is encouraged by action taken by Sainsbury's, a leading retailer which was amongst the first to buy CSPO and has used 450 tonnes of CSPO this year and will be launching more products using CSPO later in 2009. Sainsbury's has made a clear commitment only to use CSPO by 2014 and is working hard to make sure this becomes a reality.

"WWF applauds the leadership of companies like Sainsbury's, who have backed up their public commitment with action, and when the Scorecard is published we hope to see even more significant purchases from more companies," said Adam Harrison, Senior Policy Officer for Food and Agriculture at WWF-UK.

WWF asks all companies buying palm oil to make public commitments that they will use 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil by 2015; to make public their plans with deadlines to achieve this goal; and to begin purchasing certified sustainable palm oil immediately.

The Palm Oil Buyer’s Scorecard will rank the commitments and actions of major global and UK retailers, manufacturers and traders that buy palm oil. Companies will be scored on a variety of criteria relating to their commitments to, and actions on, sustainable palm oil. The resulting scores will not only help consumers evaluate the performance of these companies but also encourage the companies themselves to better support the use of sustainable palm oil.

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