The RSPO Next scheme features stricter requirements in areas such as deforestation, burning, peatland and human rights.
Eligible growers must demonstrate that at least 60% of their plantations are already compliant with the industry-sponsored body’s core certification criteria while also committing to new RSPO Next policies.
“By creating RSPO Next, we are responding to a request from some of our members to provide continuous improvements within the RSPO framework for those ready and able to go further on their sustainability commitments,” said Darrel Weber, chief executive of RSPO, otherwise known as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
He added the extension had the potential to become a new industry benchmark for growers that were working to make palm oil production fully sustainable.
Under the terms of RSPO Next, growers must introduce a broader no-deforestation policy. Moreover, they must not develop a palm oil plantations in areas where vegetation and soil contain high stocks of carbon, and they are compelled limit CO2 emissions caused by any form of forest conversion.
Under the regulations, there is to have been no planting on peatland, and oil palm growers must have plans in place to prevent, monitor and combat fire on plantations and around their estates.
RSPO Next also requires oil palm growers to monitor, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their entire operations, including their mills and other facilities, while also publicly reporting their status and progress.
Growers must also commit to respecting the rights of smallholders and workers beyond the criteria contained in RSPO’s framework.
Under the terms of RSPO Next, oil palm growers must engage with their workers to mutually agree human rights terms if there is no national definition of a decent living wage in the country where they operate. It also requires growers to develop outreach programmes to support smallholders with sustainability and business skills.
The certification extension also brings in enhanced transparency and traceability regulations and outlaws the use of Paraquat, a pesticide already banned in the EU.