15/05/2009 (International Centre forTrade and Sustainable Development) - The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) says it will begin a campaign to rate major palm oil purchasers on their sustainability after figures show only a fraction of certified palm oil on the market has been purchased.
The WWF says that despite the fact that 1.3 million tonnes of sustainable palm oil has been on the market since November 2008, only 15,000 tonnes has been bought.
The oil is found in a variety of foods, including margarine, cooking oil, potato chips, cakes, and cookies. It is also an ingredient in many cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and detergents. Major buyers include multinational corporations, such as Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal and Cadbury.
Sustainable palm oil is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-profit, multi-stakeholders forum spearheaded by WWF in 2001. Shipments of sustainable palm oil first hit global markets in November last year (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 4 November 2008, http://ictsd.net/i/news/biores/33649/).
But while certification is meant to offer consumers reassurance that environmental and social safeguards have been met during production, wholesale costs can increase by as much 6 percent. The RSPO blames the economic crisis for the slow start.
”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,” the WWF said in a statement.
The proposed ‘scorecard’ will rank the commitments and actions of major global retailers, manufacturers and traders that buy palm oil. The WWF will rate companies on their perceived commitments to, and actions on, sustainable palm oil. The green group says it hopes to allow consumers to evaluate a given company on their environmental performance and encourage companies themselves to better support the use of sustainable palm oil.
According to the RSPO, more than 28 million tonnes of palm oil are produced around the world each year - almost one third of the world’s vegetable oil production. Over the past two decades, areas undergoing palm oil cultivation have grown by about 43 percent, according to RSPO - mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia, where deforestation pressures are already high. The RSPO certified the first Indonesian palm oil producer last month (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 17 April 2009, http://ictsd.net/i/news/biores/45209/.)