Skip to main content

Could do better on palm oil

According to recent market reports, demand for palm oil is 'skyrocketing worldwide,' with global demand estimated at 74.6 million tons in 2019 and expected to grow.  It is used in packaging and in so much of our snack foods, cookies, crackers, chocolate products, instant noodles, cereals, and doughnuts, and the list goes on. Palm oil is used in a staggering 50% of consumer products.  Yet, unethical exploitation is destroying rainforests and harming the planet.  Asia Pacific countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia are the top producers contributing 80% to the global market. 

WWF’s 2021 Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard published last month found that some of the world’s most influential brands are still failing to tackle the deforestation and damage to critical natural habitats caused by unsustainable palm oil production. 

The sixth edition of the scorecard, the most far-reaching to date, examined 227 major retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and hospitality companies across the globe on their commitments and actions to create a sustainable palm oil industry.  So, how did they fair?

John Lewis Partnership was top of the class in the UK, ‘leading the way’ on sustainable palm oil. The Co-operative Group UK, Unilever, Tesco and Saputo Dairy UK are described as ‘well on the path to sustainable sourcing. 

The John Lewis Partnership/Waitrose show what can be done with effort.  Alongside global brands, Arla Foods and The Estée Lauder Companies, John Lewis Partnership jumped from the middle to the top category in just a year, with John Lewis achieving fourth place globally.  

In contrast, 11 UK companies failed to provide information on their palm oil usage and sustainability efforts, including healthcare giant Glaxo SmithKline and the Wetherspoons pub chain. Globally a third of companies failed to respond. 

Katie White, Executive Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said on presenting their report:  

“A few companies have made impressive strides to eliminate unsustainable palm oil from their businesses to protect nature. Moreover, they have shown their competitors that it can be done.  

“However, despite many global brands making long-standing commitments to eliminate the destruction of nature from their palm oil supply chains by 2020, the vast majority are still not acting on their promises. We won’t forget the companies that don’t step up - with so much at stake, there is no room for inaction or half measures.” 

All in all, much more progress is needed to achieve environmental sustainability in palm oil usage. WWF’s new scorecard highlights significant room for progress for companies from all parts of the palm oil industry and in all countries.

This year, UK companies scored an average of just 14.4 out of 24, slightly higher than the international average of 13.2 points and on par with the European average of 14.1. However, so much more could be done. But it also requires greater transparency on sourcing. 

Most scorecard companies have failed to establish robust policies and mechanisms to ensure that the palm oil they source is free of deforestation, conversion, and human rights abuse. While seven out of 10 have committed to addressing deforestation in their palm oil supply chains, and nine out of 10 to protecting human rights, only a handful apply these commitments to all ecosystems and the people most at risk of unsustainable palm oil production.  

The scorecard also finds that half of the respondent companies are still not sourcing 100% RSPO (Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil) certified sustainable palm oil. In addition, only a quarter have systems in place to check if their suppliers are meeting their sustainability commitments. 

WWF’s palm oil scorecard also examines actions companies are taking beyond their own supply chains to support a sustainable palm oil industry.  Encouragingly, just over half of companies are actively participating in sustainability platforms, including the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition (POTC) or the GCF Forest Positive Coalition, to drive industry-wide transformation. In addition, four out of ten companies are investing in projects to support real change on the ground in palm oil-producing landscapes, such as building the capacity of smallholders and forest protection. 

After a decade of inaction by many, this is a positive shift that all companies should adopt as quickly as possible. 

Source: WWF

Photo by Dimitry B on Unsplash


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Hazardous Pesticides found in Chinese Herbal Remidies Sold in UK, Europe and North America

A major scientific investigation by Greenpeace has revealed that traditional Chinese herbal products available in the UK are laced with a toxic cocktail of pesticide residues, many of them exceeding levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In total, 36 samples of herbal products imported from China were collected, including chrysanthemum, wolfberry, honeysuckle, dried lily bulb, san qi, Chinese date, and rosebud. These products are popular amongst health-conscious consumers and Asian communities, and are purchased for medicinal use. However, the independent analysis found that a majority of the samples contained a cocktail of pesticides, some of them extremely dangerous: • 32 out of the 36 samples collected contained three or more kinds of pesticides. • 17 out of 36 samples showed residues of pesticides classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as highly or extremely hazardous. • 26 out of 29 European samples showed pesticide residues in quantiti