European Firms Failing to Source Sustainable Palm Oil

European Firms Failing to Source Sustainable Palm Oil

Out of 59 major retailers operating in Europe, only 10 are showing any progress on making their palm oil usage as susatainable as possible, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

The WWF's Palm Oil Scorecard, released this week by the group, is the first assessment of the ways that companies are working to source sustainable palm oil, whose harvesting in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.

The end results of the study show that the majority of retailers and manufacturers surveyed are not only failing to buy certified sustainable palm oil, but are not meeting their own prior commitments to purchase the product.

“Because certified palm oil is now available, it is time to hold major palm oil users to account for their policies and actions,” Rod Taylor, Director of the Forests Programme at WWF International, said in a statement. “Although many companies have a long way to go, the performances of the top companies in the Scorecard signal to the rest of the industry that it is possible to turn commitment into action and transform the market.”
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The leading companies for sustainable palm oil sourcing include U.K. retailers Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer, which scored 26 and 25.5 points, respectively, out of a possible 29 total points. The Swiss retailer Migros scored 25 points, rounding out the top three firms on the list.

Companies in the survey were scored over the course of six months using a two-step process: first the WWF surveyed the publicly available data on palm oil procurement and use from all 59 companies and sent preliminary scores to each firm along with a request for any further clarifying information. The group then compiled all the data into the final scores.

The WWF is urging all retailers to undertake four steps to improve the market for sustainable palm oil:

1. Become an active member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil;
2. Put in place policies and systems to control where palm oil is sourced from; 3. Make public commitments for the use of 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) by 2015 or sooner; and
4. Begin purchasing CSPO immediately.

The scorecard, which will be updated every two years, follows on another study released by the WWF in May 2009 showing that just a small percentage of the total CSPO on the market had been purchased.

Since that time, the WWF says the market has improved; in the past year plantations certified by the Roundtable have produced over 1 million tonnes of CSPO, of which 19 percent has been sold, with sales increasing in recent months.

Among the moves companies have made to improve the production and sourcing of palm oil, Cadbury's in August reformulated its Dairy Milk bars to remove the palm oil from its recipe; and earlier this year Seventh Generation purchased CSPO credits enough to cover all its line of products, as a first step toward procuring 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil.

The list of top-scoring companies from the WWF Palm Oil Scorecard are below; you can download the full scorecard and get more information online at www.panda.org/palmoilscorecard.