Businesses taking steps to improve sustainable palm oil sourcing
There are encouraging signs that companies are starting to take palm oil sourcing seriously, but the WWF says there is still not enough being done to prevent further environmental damage. Charlotte Reid has been looking into it.
The nature conservation organisation, WWF, has released a palm oil buyer’s scorecard of businesses and manufacturers. In comparison to the results from 2009, many companies have made strides forward, showing that the issue of palm oil sourcing has become a mainstream one.
The scorecard rates 132 companies that use palm oil. Full marks were awarded to 29 companies, with 15 of them from the UK, including ASDA, Boots and Cadbury’s.
Palm oil is edible oil derived from the fruit of palm trees. It is used in a number of products that are used in everyday life, like shampoo and margarine.
There is no problem with using palm oil; the issue is with how it is produced. Tropical forests are often cut down to make room for the plantations, putting communities and endangered species under threat. However, there is on-going work to make the palm oil industry sustainable whilst remaining profitable.
Down at the bottom of this year’s table are companies like the German retailers Aldi and EDEKA Group, who would not disclose anything about their palm oil policies.
The results from 2011 are better than the last time the WWF released a scorecard report, which was in 2009 and no company was awarded full marks.
Adam Harrison, WWF palm oil expert said, “The leading companies in the scorecard demonstrate that it is possible to source certified sustainable palm oil usage, so there are no excuses for all companies not to take action now”.
A part of this work is that 87 of the 132 companies that have been surveyed by the WWF say they are committed to using 100% sustainably sourced palm oil by 2015 or earlier.
Harrison points out that 2015 is still far off.
“All companies, even some of the top performers, need to move faster”, he said.
“Only then can we ensure that the momentum gained by the RSPO [Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil] is not lost and avoid the negative impacts of irresponsible oil palm plantations on forests, wildlife and communities”.
If you want to look at buying your products from more sustainable companies, then look at our in-depth shopping guide.
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