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Scoring palm oil buyers on their sustainability commitments

October 10, 2016

Scoring palm oil buyers on their sustainability commitments

10 October 2016 / Mike Gaworecki

2015 was supposed to be a big year for the palm oil industry — the year it proposed to reach a “tipping point” and begin predominantly producing and trading palm oil that was not responsible for the destruction of forests, abuses of human rights, and other problems that have plagued the production of one of the fastest-growing agricultural commodities in the world.

Palm oil can be found in everything from cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate to lipstick, laundry detergent, and candles. It accounted for nearly 40 percent of global vegetable oil consumption between 2014 and 2015, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The growth of palm oil production over the past several years has had dire consequences for tropical forests, which have been cleared for oil palm plantations at alarming rates, as well as the people and wildlife that call those forests home. Indonesia and Malaysia, which together produce nearly 90 percent of the world’s palm oil, have suffered a disproportionate amount of these impacts.

Many businesses have pledged to address the contribution their operations make to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, and 2015 became an important target by consensus. Consumer companies like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever; fast food companies like McDonald’s and Starbuck’s; makers of cosmetics and personal care products like Avon; and retailers like Marks & Spencer all made major commitments to use certified sustainable palm oil in their products by 2015. Even some countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, said they would drop palm oil linked to deforestation and other environmentally damaging practices by 2015.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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