WWF Palm Oil Buyers' Scorecard 2011



[news_posted_on] 22 November 2011  | 
In 2009, WWF’s first Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard revealed that a small group of forward-thinking companies had made commitments to use only sustainable palm oil and that some of these had been followed up with tangible action.

the Scorecard also showed that the industry was facing a long journey ahead before sustainable palm oil sourcing became the norm. For this reason WWF announced that we would repeat the Scorecard to check on progress, and whether companies were honouring their commitments.

Two years later, WWF has assessed again the palm oil buying practices of major companies in Europe, this time expanding the scope of the Scorecard to include companies from Australia and Japan. As in 2009, we have looked at these companies’ commitment to, and use of, palm oil certified to the internationally recognized
standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Palm oil is a major global commodity a highly versatile vegetable oil derived from very productive oil palm trees grown only in the tropics. And it is here to stay consumption is increasing globally and is set to grow from about 50 million tonnes in 2011 to at least 77 million tonnes in 2050.

Clearing tropical forests for oil palm production can be very damaging to wildlife, communities and the wider environment not least because deforestation makes a major contribution to greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

But palm oil itself is not the issue the problem is how and where palm oil is produced. The industry does not have to grow at the expense of the environment. At the heart of the RSPO is a standard that requires members not to clear primary forest or any land that is important for wildlife and communities. In 2011, 10 per cent of global palm oil is certified to the RSPO standard—but unfortunately only half of that is being bought.

The Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 measured the performance of 132 major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers against four areas which show whether or not these companies are acting responsibly:

• Being an active member of the RSPO;
• Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;
• Disclosing how much palm oil they use;
• Showing how much of the palm oil they source is RSPO-certified.

IIn 2010, WWF-Australia published the Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard Australia. Three of the Australian companies included in the 2010 Scorecard Goodman Fielder, Coles Supermarkets and Woolworths are also included in the 2011 version. All three of these Australian brands have shown progress in commitments and actions on sustainable palm oil, although plenty of action is still needed to reach the 2015 targets they have committed to.

Conclusions

The Scorecard reveals that there has been some progress on sustainable palm oil since WWF’s 2009 assessment. But new commitments are simply not translating fast enough into increased use of certified sustainable palm oil. The implications for companies are clear—they need to shift gears immediately and accelerate their use of RSPO-certified palm oil.

Another finding of the Scorecard is a worrying lack of openness in the industry. Companies are reluctant to say how much palm oil they are using, making it difficult to judge their progress and equally challenging to show what their commitments mean in terms of future demand for certified sustainable palm oil. And yet, this information is vital to convince producers that there is demand for palm oil that meets the standards
of the RSPO.

The availability of several supply chain options, coupled with the ready supply of certified sustainable palm oil, means that there are simply no excuses for companies not to accelerate sustainable sourcing.

Companies must start pushing harder to source fully traceable sustainable palm oil. Only then will the whole supply chain begin to be cleaned of unacceptable palm oil from sources that may have contributed to deforestation.

Time is running out for palm oil buyers to take action. Companies need to seize this opportunity to support sustainable palm oil, and help avoid the irrecoverable loss of tropical forests, and the unique species that inhabit them. This is a chance to show the world that they are part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem.

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