Green lobby groups have welcomed recent initiatives from the food industry to improve the sustainability of its palm oil, while calling for further action.
The news followed a recent announcement by Unilever that 100% of the palm oil it buys would be from traceable sources by end 2014, bringing forward earlier commitments.
WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) has welcomed a commitment to observe fairness, transparency and impartiality in the handling of complaints, passed by members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
“With these votes, the RSPO is demonstrating that it remains on a path to ensuring more and more sustainability in the increasingly significant palm oil sector,” said WWF palm oil expert Adam Harrison. “Progress is not always as rapid as some of us might like, but what is important is that it continues.”
WWF also joined palm oil firms New Britain Palm Oil, Daabon and Agropalma and non-governmental organisations Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and Forest Peoples Programme in launching the Palm Oil Innovation Group charter of commitments.
The charter describes the performance level these RSPO-certified firms have set themselves within the RSPO standard the group believes best describes responsible palm oil production.
“Together, the Palm Oil Innovation Group will work in the coming months to support and improve the RSPO as an institution and a standard,” said Harrison.
Greenpeace International said ‘no deforestation’ commitments from Unilever and Italian chocolate company Ferrero, as well as pledges from other palm oil producers to cut forest destruction and human rights violations from their supply chains, represented "a model for the rest of the industry to follow".
“While ‘no deforestation’ commitments are welcome, firms such as Unilever must show how they intend to go beyond the RSPO to break their links with forest destruction,” said Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner at Greenpeace International. Greenpeace recently targeted palm oil trader Wilmar International, accusing it of aiding gross acts of forest destruction.