Monday, November 24, 2014

Efforts in Support of Sustainable Palm Oil

Responsible sourcing of palm oil is a growing concern with consumers and by extension a growing number of corporations. Palm oil plantations are infamous for destroying both forests and peatlands. At the start of 2014 a survey of the state of responsible sourcing of palm oil showed just how bad things are. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis revealed that twenty-four of the 30 leading companies they surveyed do not source palm oil responsibly.

In a report titled Donuts, Deodorant and Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on their Palm Oil Commitments, USC looked at the 10 biggest companies in the packaged food, fast food and personal care industries and found that the vast majority have inadequate commitments or lack commitments altogether.

As reviewed in a Mongabay article, another more recent initiative ranks the world's 25 largest publicly listed palm oil companies in terms of transparency around the environmental performance of their operations. The project, called Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit or SPOTT, was developed by The Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The initiative assessed almost 50 sustainability indicators in seven categories, including: 1. Compliance with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
2. Greenhouse gas emissions policy
3. Protection of forests
4. Supply chain traceability

To help pressure companies to compete and to provide a publicly accessible monitoring tool, ZSL has created a map that gives users a detailed picture of deforestation, fire hotspots and surviving forests.

SPOTT gives publicly listed companies a percentage score for each indicator and then these scores are combined to create an aggregate score which assesses their overall performance. This is an ideal tool for stakeholders who can monitor the activities of oil palm growers using the Google mapping tool with data layers for company concession site boundaries, protected areas, forest cover and loss, and NASA active fire alerts from the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch.

SPOTT not only identifies laggards it also celebrates leaders. The outright SPOTT leader is New Britain Palm Oil Limited, a firm with operations in Papua New Guinea that was among the first to join the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), an initiative that is pushing for stronger social and environmental standards for palm oil.

Another is Golden Agri-Resources which is the first palm oil company in Asia to establish a zero deforestation commitment. This company is tied with Malaysia's United Plantations for the second.

The worst on the list are five Malaysian firms including Sarawak Oil Palms Berhad and TSH Resources Berhad.

Related
Victory for Responsible Palm Oil Plantations
Video - The Slaughter of Orangutans for Palm Oil
Palm Oil's Environmental Impacts: Solutions to Deforestation and Methane Emissions
Video - The Slaughter of Orangutans for Palm Oil
Proctor & Gamble Sustainability Journey
Campaign Succeeds in Pressuring P&G into Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil

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