Palm oil firm becomes first to win eco-certification
September 28, 2008
After inspections across its its nine estates, six mills and conservation areas and interviews with managers and employees by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oils (RSPO), an industry-driven sustainability initiative, the firm was awarded the "Certificate of Conformance to RSPO Principles and Criteria". United Plantations has implemented "zero-burn policies" as well as measures to reduce pollution and the use of fertilizers and pesticides. The firm has also set aside areas of high conservation value, according to RSPO.
The news comes as the palm oil industry moves to improve its environmental performance in response to harsh criticism from scientists and activists who say that oil palm expansion is driving deforestation and putting endangered species at risk. A recent study showed that more than half of oil palm expansion in Malaysia and Indonesia between 1990 and 2005 occurred at the expense of forests, while other research has found that oil palm plantations contain up to 80 percent less biodiversity than logged forests and are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions when established on peatlands and in tropical rainforests.
Now that RSPO-certification has become a reality, some expect producers to seek a pricing premium for "greener" palm oil. Consumer giant Unilever — one of the world's largest consumers of palm oil — has already committed to buying only certified palm oil by 2015.
10% premium for sustainable palm oil? May 21, 2008
Will consumers pay a premium for a product that is less damaging to the environment? The palm oil industry intends to find out whether buyers will put their money where there mouth is. The first shipments of certified eco-friendly palm oil will arrive in Germany during the second half of 2008 according to the head of OVID, a German edible oil industry group.
Indonesian palm oil firms pledge to stop clearing rainforests May 13, 2008
Palm oil companies operating in Indonesia pledged to stop clearing forests for new plantations reports The Jakarta Post. The move is a response to growing criticism that oil palm expansion is destroying biologically-rich rainforests and contributing to global warming.
Unilever calls for ban on rainforest destruction for palm oil May 1, 2008
Unilever, the world's largest consumer good company, will start using palm oil from certified sustainable sources this year and aims to have all its palm oil certified by 2015, according to a speech delivered today by CEO Patrick Cescau.
Sustainability conference reveals a rift in the Malaysian Palm Oil Council May 1, 2008
Last month's sustainability conference sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) revealed a rift between some planters and the industry marketing organization. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, several oil palm plantation executives distanced themselves from a video created by the MPOC as well as closing remarks by the group's CEO, Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Yusof Basiron. They said the video and comments provided ammunition for NGOs that accuse the MPOC of greenwashing.
Malaysian palm oil industry puts sustainability in the spotlight April 17, 2008
Seeking to differentiate its palm oil from that produced less responsibly in other countries, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) sponsored a three-day meeting this week in Kota Kinabalu, on the island of Borneo. The International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference (IPOSC) aimed to promote the virtues of palm oil and address environmental concerns that many green groups say plague the industry.
Palm oil industry prepares geen initiative to counter criticism
(1/18/2008) Global food and consumer goods giants are backing a plan to certify that palm oil is produced in a way that doesn't drive destruction of tropical rainforests, reports The Wall Street Journal. The move comes as the palm industry is facing increasing scrutiny -- and consumer backlash -- for its practices which scientists say are driving large-scale destruction of forests across Indonesia and Malaysia, resulting in massive greenhouse gas emissions.
Eco-friendly palm oil could help alleviate poverty in Indonesia - Palm oil is not a failure as a biofuel
(April 4, 2007) The Associated Press (AP) recently quoted Marcel Silvius, a renowned climate expert at Wetlands International in the Netherlands, as saying palm oil is a failure as a biofuel. This would be a misleading statement and one that doesn't help efforts to devise a workable solution to the multitude of issues surrounding the use of palm oil.
Palm oil doesn't have to be bad for the environment
(April 4, 2007) As traditionally practiced in Southeast Asia, oil-palm cultivation is responsible for widespread deforestation that reduces biodiversity, degrades important ecological services, worsens climate change, and traps workers in inequitable conditions sometimes analogous to slavery. This doesn't have to be the case. Following examples set forth by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and firms like Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, a Malaysian palm-oil producer, oil palm can be cultivated in a manner that helps mitigate climate change, preserves biodiversity, and brings economic opportunities to desperately poor rural populations.