Greenpeace urges food companies to check palm oil suppliers' sustainability score

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Palm oil Sustainability

How sustainable is your palm oil supply?
How sustainable is your palm oil supply?
Greenpeace has published a scorecard rating palm oil producers’ sustainability efforts, in order to provide food and other consumer goods companies with better information about how their palm oil is produced.

Published to coincide with the beginning of the tenth annual Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) meeting in Singapore this week, the report shows that only one company of eleven major global palm oil producers achieved full marks for its forest protection and peatland protection initiatives, while also certifying at least half of its palm oil under the RSPO certification programme.

The company, Agropalma Brazil, only produces 0.3% of global certified palm oil, but Greenpeace highlighted its work as “a blueprint for the rest of the palm oil industry to move towards responsible production.”

In total, about 14% of global palm oil production is certified as sustainable.

At a breakout session on Tuesday morning, Agropalma Group’s corporate social and responsibility manager Tulio Dias Brito spoke about some of the challenges the company faced as it worked to achieve a high level of sustainability in its supply chain, including difficulties in ensuring labour was in line with regulations.

When a smallholder has some degree of success, one of the first things he or she will do is hire extra staff, he said. This is often done in contravention of labour laws, which is not tolerated under RSPO standards.

“With environmental responsibilities it is about technology, knowledge and budget, but with social, it is difficult to put a line between what is the responsibility of the company and what is the responsibility of the community and the local government,” ​said Dias Brito. “…It was difficult to organise in a participatory way.”

Papua New Guinea-based New Britain Palm Oil, which contributes a 1.1% share of global certified palm oil (CPO), came second in Greenpeace’s ranking, followed by Golden Agri Resources, with its 4.3% of CPO production. GAR scored full marks for forest and peatland protection, but only 25-50% of its palm oil is RSPO certified.

Greenpeace also highlighted GAR for its forest conservation work to eliminate deforestation from all of its operations and to move to a zero deforestation footprint.

However, Greenpeace claims that current initiatives aiming to break the link between deforestation and palm oil production as a whole are not working, and called on food manufacturers to put pressure on suppliers for sustainably produced palm oil.

“This can be achieved by strengthening forest and peatland protection commitments, and putting them into action,”​ it said.

“Greenpeace is providing the latest information on the policies of palm oil producers so that consumer companies can take these into account when they purchase palm oil.”

The full scorecard is available online here​.

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