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Palm oil firm becomes first to win eco-certification

Palm oil firm becomes first to win eco-certification

Palm oil firm becomes first to win eco-certification
September 28, 2008

United Plantations, a Malaysia-based palm oil producer, has become the first oil palm plantation firm to be certified for adopting the strictest standards of sustainability for palm oil production, according to Bernama.

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.

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