Some of the world’s largest palm oil buyers—including PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson—and fellow corporate palm oil users such as Walmart, Starbucks, General Mills, The Kellogg Company, and Mars, Inc. have come together to sign a letter calling on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to adopt stronger measures to ensure the palm oil it certifies as “sustainable” is not actually destroying forests.
The letter—created by the Office of New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Green Century Capital Management, and Ceres—discusses the need for the RSPO to adopt stronger guidelines, like those many of its member companies have committed to follow. Largely in response to consumer demand for products not linked to deforestation, corporate giants like Mars, Inc. have created their own policies and are using stricter guidelines than those currently used by the RSPO to guarantee that their supply chains are not associated with human rights and deforestation abuses.
Currently, the RSPO is on a 2018 timeline to make any changes to its “Principles & Criteria (P&C),” the basis of its certification standard. With companies making their own headway on problems associated with palm oil, it only makes sense for the RSPO to catch up. In an attempt to do just that, the RSPO recently announced a new program called RSPO+. But the need remains to incorporate these voluntary guidelines into mandatory P&C for certification sooner rather than later.
“This action by the RSPO reflects the growing concerns with these issues and extensive discussions within the RSPO on how best to integrate these within the existing standard. It aims at fulfilling the current market and society demands for stronger sustainability requirements, while maintaining the inclusivity of the standard, in its vision of 100% market transformation," said the RSPO in a statement.
It reamins to be seen how the RSPO+ program will ultimately help to strengthen the RSPO standard and where this leaves companies working towards deforestation-free palm oil supply chains today.
Say “Thank You!” to some of these companies for their efforts so far in protecting habitats for great apes and other wildlife and ask them for an update on their progress.
By Nicole DeMentri, Conservation Associate