Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Companies are buying more certified sustainable palm oil than ever before - but urgent action is still needed to avoid the irreversible loss of tropical forests and species such as tigers, according to WWF’s latest assessment of palm oil buyers.

“It’s never been easier for companies to be responsible about the palm oil they use,” said Dr Gilly Llewellyn, WWF-Australia’s Director of Conservation.

WWF today released the Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011, which measures over 130 major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers by looking at their commitment to, and use of, palm oil certified to the internationally recognised standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. 

“Palm oil itself is not the issue – the problem is how and where it is produced. The solution is certified sustainable palm oil. Some companies have fallen behind on their existing commitments to use only 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil, while others haven’t even started.

“This is an urgent problem. The clearing of tropical forests for oil palm production can be very damaging to wildlife, communities and the environment. Deforestation takes away precious habitat and makes a major contribution to carbon pollution caused by human activity,” said Dr Llewellyn.

Australian retailers Woolworths, Coles Supermarkets and Metcash; as well as food producers Goodman Fielder, Arnott’s, Snack Brands and Peerless Holdings were analysed in the 2011 Scorecard.

The WWF Scorecard was launched today at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo Sumatran tiger display – home to three tiger cubs. Taronga Zoo Director and Chief Executive Cameron Kerr said this was a potent reminder of the importance of sustainable palm.

“Sumatran tigers live on the brink of extinction, with as few as 400 left in the wild. Our three new cubs’ beautiful stripes can’t camouflage them if there’s no jungle left. We want people to support certified sustainable palm oil to help reduce forest clearance,” said Mr Kerr.

Many of the companies in this year’s WWF Scorecard have made commendable progress to increase their use of sustainable palm oil and reduce their impact on deforestation. 87 of the 132 companies (66 per cent) have committed to sourcing 100 per cent RSPO-certified palm oil by 2015 or earlier, an encouraging sign that could spur further market development.

Unilever Australia’s Chief Executive Sebastian Lazell said that on a global scale, Unilever recognised the need to support sustainable palm oil producers.

“As a founding member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Unilever believes current and future palm oil needs can be met without any further deforestation if industry, governments and NGOs work together to boost production and market uptake of sustainable palm oil. 

“In 2008 we made a global commitment to source all of our palm oil sustainability by 2015. So far, our entire Australian and New Zealand operations and two thirds of our global requirements are covered by GreenPalm certificates and segregated sustainable palm oil. Unilever has purchased more than half of all the GreenPalm Certificates traded and we remain the biggest buyer and supporter of certified sustainable palm oil.”

The WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 is available for download here

Recommendations from WWF

Consumers can:

  1. Support companies that have committed to certified sustainable palm oil
  2. Look for the RSPO trademark on products
  3. Ask your retailer to source certified sustainable palm oil products for everything they sell – not just their own brands.
  4. Ask the manufacturers of the products you use to source certified sustainable palm oil