Belgium will source only palm oil certified under the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2015 under a pledge by an alliance of major processors, manufacturers, and industry associations, reports the RSPO.
The Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil made the commitment as part of an effort to boost demand for palm oil that meets RSPO social and environmental criteria.
The move was immediately welcomed by Darrel Webber, the Secretary General of RSPO.
“The establishment of the Belgian Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil is a highly commendable and progressive initiative undertaken by organizations towards 100% sourcing of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2015,” Webber said in a statement. “The Belgian Alliance demonstrates strong commitment and leadership in promoting sustainability among European product manufacturers, continuing the positive trend initiated by the Dutch national industry commitment in 2010.”
The decision follows a similar pledge by Dutch palm oil processors and traders last year. Several major palm oil-consuming companies, including Unilever, McDonald’s and Nestle, have also committed to sourcing only RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015. RSPO-certified palm oil currently account for about 11 percent of all palm oil produced globally.
Palm oil certification
The RSPO was formed as a response to concerns that palm oil production has emerged as a major driver of deforestation in Southeast Asia in recent decades. The highly profitable crop has also been linked to social conflict in some places, especially Borneo. The RSPO aims to set minimum standards for palm oil production to reduce pollution and the likelihood that “high conservation value” forests are converted for plantations. It also has a system for registering complaints against member companies.
The RSPO has been shipping palm oil to Europe since 2008.
Supporters of the RSPO see the certification scheme as a means to create financial incentives for greener palm oil production. However some environmentalists remain skeptical that criteria are strong enough to avoid abuses by members.
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