Learn more: Sustainable palm oil RSPO certified


5 things you should know about palm oil

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil in the world, and the cheapest to produce. It's used in thousands of products, from cookies to lipstick. Indonesia and Malaysia produce about 85 percent of the world's supply, using roughly 53,800 square miles – half the size of Oregon.

The cost: when produced unsustainably, the palm oil industry destroys vital habitats for increasingly endangered orangutans, tigers, Asian elephants, and sun bears.

Here are five things wildlife advocates need to know about the issue.

1. You likely consumed palm oil today without knowing it

Palm oil is in an estimated half of all packaged food products sold in American grocery stores. It's in the majority of cosmetics. Most baby formulas, laundry detergents, chocolate bars, toothpaste, and shampoos contain palm oil. It can even be found in products as seemingly "additive-free" as cow's milk.

2. Ingredient labels won't always tell you which products contain palm oil

An ingredient may be derived from palm oil if it includes the word "palm" in it (with the exception of hearts of palm), such as palmate or palmitate. An ingredient may be derived from palm oil if it includes the words "lauryl," "laureth," the prefix "stear-," "vegetable oil," "glycerin" or "emulsifier." Hundreds of ingredients contains small amounts of palm oil and go by different names, which means many products contain palm oil even when it's not listed as an ingredient. 

3. Boycotting palm oil won't save forests or wildlife

Boycotting is a legitimate expression of consumers' environmental concerns, but it's not likely to save wildlife or forests. If consumers boycott palm oil, companies could buy alternative oils that may require up to nine times as much land to produce. Meanwhile, palm oil growers would have even less incentive to produce responsible palm oil.

4. Responsibly produced palm oil does exist

In order to clean up palm oil's environmental record, companies must 1) stop deforestation, 2) maximize crop yields on their existing plantations, 3) plant only on degraded land, and 4) allow wildlife to use the plantations without harassment. This is certified sustainable palm oil.

5. When consumers demand responsible palm oil, companies take action

Some companies have committed to using only deforestation-free palm oil. Others have done little or nothing to cut deforestation from their supply chains. Before you shop, do some research. Identify and buy products from companies that have committed to deforestation-free palm oil. Speak out to businesses that still don't.



Sustainable palm oil RSPO certified

What does sustainable palm oil mean?
What does RSPO certified sustainable palm oil mean?

The answer is palm oil that is grown and certified against the 8 RSPO principles and criteria (with supporting indicators). These stringent sustainability criteria related to social, environmental, and economic good practice.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria for the Production of Sustainable Palm Oil (2013)

The Principles and Criteria for the Production of Sustainable Palm Oil identify practices that are consistent with the sustainable production of palm oil. The document lists criteria and ways that palm oil farmers, millers, and auditors can identify compliance practices. The updated, 2013 edition is the result of a yearlong review to improve the relevance and effectiveness of the 2007 Principles and Criteria for the Production of Sustainable Palm Oil. Changes to the document include new criteria for reporting, documenting, and measuring GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. The document is effective as of May 2013. The RSPO is committed to following the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Goal: The RSPO aims to transform markets to make sustainable palm oil production the norm (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, 2012).


Relevant Clauses;

Principle 1: Commitment to transparency

1.1   Growers and millers provide adequate information to relevant stakeholders on environmental, social, and legal issues in appropriate languages and forms to allow for effective participation in decision making.

1.2   Management documents are publicly available.

1.3   Growers and millers commit to ethical conduct.


Principle 2: Compliance with applicable laws and regulations

2.1   Compliance with all applicable local, national, and ratified international laws and regulations.

2.2   The right to use the land is demonstrated, and is not legitimately contested by local people.

2.3   Use of the land for oil palm does not diminish the legal, customary, or user rights of other users without their free, prior, and informed consent.

Principle 3: Commitment to long-term economic and financial viability

3.1   Implemented a management plan that aims to achieve long-term economic and financial viability.

Principle 4: Use of appropriate best practices by growers and millers

4.1    Operating procedures are appropriately documented, consistently implemented, and monitored.

4.2    Practices maintain soil fertility at a level that ensures optimal and sustained yield.

4.3   Practices minimize and control erosion and degradation of soils.

4.4   Practices maintain the quality and availability of surface and groundwater.

4.5   Pests, diseases, weeds, and invasive introduced species are effectively managed using appropriate Integrated Pest Management techniques.

4.6   Pesticides are used in ways that do not endanger the health or the environment

4.7   An occupational health and safety plan is documented, effectively communicated, and implemented.

4.8   All staff, workers, smallholders, and contract workers are appropriately trained.

Principle 5: Environmental responsibility and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity

5.1   Aspects of plantation and mill management that have environmental impacts are identified and plans to mitigate the negative are made, implemented, and monitored

5.2   The status of rare, threatened, or endangered species and other High Conservation Value habitats shall be identified and operations managed to best ensure that they are maintained and/or enhanced.

5.3   Waste is reduced, recycled, reused, and disposed of in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

5.4   Efficiency of fossil fuel use and the use of renewable energy is optimized.

5.5 The Use of fire for preparing land or replanting is avoided.

5.6   Growers and millers commit to reporting on operational greenhouse gas emissions.

5.6   Plans to reduce pollution and emissions, including greenhouse gases, are developed, implemented, and monitored.

Principle 6: Responsible consideration of employees and of individuals and communities affected by growers and millers

6.1   Aspects of plantation and mill management that have social impacts are identified in a participatory way and plans to mitigate the negative impacts and promote the positive ones are made, implemented, and monitored.

6.2   Open and transparent methods for communication and consultation between growers and/or millers, local communities and other affected or interested parties.

6.3   Mutually agreed and documented system for dealing with complaints and grievances, which is implemented and accepted by all affected parties.

6.4   Any negotiations concerning compensation for loss of legal, customary, or user rights are dealt with through a documented system that enables indigenous peoples, local communities, and other stakeholders to express their views through their own representative institutions.

6.5   Pay and conditions for employees and for contract workers always meet legal or industry minimum standards and are sufficient to provide decent living wages.

6.6   The employer respects the rights of all personnel to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively. Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, the employer facilitates parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining for all such personnel.

6.7   Children are not employed or exploited.

6.8   Discrimination based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, or age, is prohibited.

6.9   There is no harassment or abuse in the workplace, and reproductive rights are protected.

6.10            Growers and millers deal fairly and transparently with other local businesses.

6.11            Growers and millers contribute to local sustainable development.

6.12            No forms of forced or trafficked labor are used.

6.13            Growers and millers respect human rights.

Principle 7: Responsible development of new plantings

7.1   A comprehensive and participatory independent social and environmental impact assessment is undertaken prior to establishing new plantings or operations or expanding existing ones, and the results incorporated into planning, management, and operations.

7.3   New plantings since November 2005 have not replaced primary forest or any area required to maintain or enhance one or more High Conservation Values.

7.4   Extensive planting on steep terrain, and/or marginal and fragile soils, including peat, is avoided.

7.5   No new plantings are established on local peoples’ land where it can be demonstrated that there are legal, customary, or user rights, without their free, prior, and informed consent. This is dealt with through a documented system that enables these and other stakeholders to express their views through their own representative institutions.

7.6   Where it can be demonstrated that local peoples have legal, customary, or user rights, they are compensated for any agreed land acquisitions and relinquishment of rights, subject to their free, prior, and informed consent and negotiated agreements.

7.7   No use of fire in the preparation of new plantings other than in specific situations, as identified in the ASEAN guidelines or other regional best practices.

7.8   The following new Criterion is introduced to demonstrate RSPO’s commitment to establishing a credible basis for the Principles and Criteria on GHGs.

Growers and millers commit to reporting on projected GHG emissions associated with new developments. Growers and millers commit to planning development in such a way to minimize net GHG emissions towards a goal of low carbon development.

7.9   New plantation developments are designed to minimize net greenhouse gas emissions.

Principle 8: Commitment to continual improvement in key areas of activity

8.1   Growers and millers regularly monitor and review their activities.


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