Environmental groups find ‘fundamental problems’ in Palm Oil sustainability plans

Environmental groups have criticised a plan by Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Nestl矡nd Heinz to certify palm oil as sustainable for not going far enough and having “fundamental problems”.

Environmental groups have criticised a plan by Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé and Heinz to certify palm oil as sustainable for not going far enough and having “fundamental problems”.

Last week the companies signed up a consortium of 200 oil producers and commercial buyers to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is working on a system to certify palm oil operations as meeting environmental criteria. The production of palm oil is reportedly causing the widespread loss of forests in Indonesia, which has the fastest rate of deforestation of any major forested country.

But Greenpeace says that the RSPO plan for certification, due to be applied in April, is “unable to deliver real sustainable standards that will prevent further forest clearances”. A Greenpeace spokeswoman says: “If the RSPO was serious about addressing the problem it would refuse to buy palm oil from sources that will not involve further conversions.”

Friends of the Earth (FoE) adds that the RSPO scheme has “fundamental problems” because it “will create an ethical market and an unethical market”. An FoE spokesperson says: “It doesn’t guarantee sustainability and I question if it is the best long-term solution.”

Under pressure from environmental groups and retailers about the destruction of forests for the production of palm oil, multinational consumer goods companies formed the RSPO in 2003. Unilever, the world’s largest single buyer of palm oil, is a founder member.

The World Wildlife Fund, which was involved in the formation of the RSPO defended the scheme. WWF-UK senior policy officer Adam Harrison says: “It is not 100% perfect but it certainly addresses some of the issues.”

In November last year, Greenpeace accused Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Kraft of being “climate vandals” for their part in clearing tropical forests.

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here