Bunge joins other major palm oil suppliers to have committed to eliminating deforestation from their palm oil supply chains, including Golden-Agri Resources (GAR) and Wilmar – which together account for about 55% of global palm oil production – and Cargill, which joined The Forest Trust in September.
“Bunge’s announcement sends a clear message to rogue actors in the palm oil industry that you can’t escape the push for forest and peat conservation,” said Forest Heroes chairman Glenn Hurowitz, who took part in Bunge’s policy negotiations over the past several months. “Customers want products made in an environmentally responsible way, period.”
Campaigners applauded Bunge’s move, with Forest Heroes claiming it will have “an outsized impact” because the company is the largest buyer of palm oil from the Malaysian state of Sarawak, which is dominated by carbon-rich peatland. When such land is bulldozed or burned for planting, the carbon is released.
Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Lael Goodman, said: “Many companies overlook peatlands’ importance. Since these areas are so carbon rich, it’s essential that companies recognize palm oil should not be grown on peatlands and that management policies for existing plantations on peatlands must be different—and Bunge is leading the charge in this regard.”
Hurowitz urged Bunge to move quickly to implement its new policy in a transparent way.
“Bunge should build on the progress it’s making in palm oil and join competitors Wilmar and Cargill in applying its No Deforestation policy across all the commodities it trades around the world,” he added.
Bunge’s new palm oil commitment is available online here.