RAN’s 'Pathway to Change' for Market Leaders

1. Reduce the use of palm oil in your products.

RAN recognizes that palm oil is an important commodity in a wide variety of consumer products worldwide. However, given palm oil’s severe negative impacts on tropical forests, forest communities, and the climate, we urge buyers to work towards reducing their consumption of palm oil and its derivatives whenever possible.

Alternatives to palm oil include coconut oil, olive oil and rapeseed oil.  Saying this, RAN does not advocate for companies to change their entire palm oil supply to only one of the above mentioned, but possibly a combination of these and other vegetable oils that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

2. Adopt and implement a palm oil policy that breaks the link between palm oil production and deforestation.

While many companies buy palm oil from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), this is not enough to ensure that the palm oil sourced does not contain rainforest destruction. Therefore, we recommend adopting and implementing a palm oil policy that exceeds standards laid out by the RSPO. A rigorous palm oil policy provides an opportunity for companies to holistically address the impacts of palm oil production, trading, and procurement/purchasing and to incorporate company values into a policy that can provide consistent guidance for internal long term planning and action.

Working closely with current Market Leaders and palm oil producers RAN has developed a detailed model palm oil policy that addresses weaknesses in the development and enforcement of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and incorporates the concerns of local communities, environmentalists and development experts in their entirety. RAN urges Market Leaders to adopt and implement this policy outright, or incorporate aspects of this model policy that may be lacking in your current company’s palm oil policy.

Adopting a rigorous palm oil policy is an essential initial step to environmentally and socially responsible palm oil. Once your policy is in place, establish an internal palm oil steering committee that brings together decisions makers from all relevant departments. Develop a strategy and action plan for implementing your company’s palm oil policy and identify priority implementation steps.

To show consumers and the industry your company is committed to the protection of the world’s tropical forests, forest communities, and the global climate, publicly announce your company’s palm oil polic

3. Review and engage your supply chain.

Because palm oil exists within one of the world’s most complex trading spaces, a fundamental step to bringing your company’s operations in-line with a rigorous palm oil policy is to understand your own palm oil supply chain.

To ensure your company does not purchase palm oil or its derivates from risky and dangerous palm oil producers, commission a public third-party audit of your company’s palm oil suppliers. A detailed analysis of the on-the-ground impacts of suppliers will allow your company to make informed supply chain decisions and ensure your company is not complicit with rainforest destruction.

Armed with detailed information on where your company’s palm oil originates, hold your suppliers accountable for their own practices. Conclusive evidence now demonstrates that Cargill Inc., Sinar Mas, and Duta Palma are among the world’s most harmful major palm oil producers. These three multinationals have demonstrated a strong resistance to cleaning up their palm oil production operations in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and your company should show its commitment to protecting rainforests by immediately canceling palm oil contracts with these three suppliers until they make independently verifiable improvements.

Work with your company’s procurement division to identify trusted palm oil suppliers that are not implicated in rainforest destruction or human rights abuses and support these suppliers through purchases of their palm oil and derivates as long as they maintain industry best practices.

The vast majority of the world’s palm oil today is not ‘identity preserved’; i.e. it is not possible to determine its geographic origin. Publicly demonstrate your company’s demand for supply chain solutions that allow identity preservation. Until true identity preservation emerges as a cost-effective reality, explore the use of the three positive supply chain options that currently exist: book-and-claim, mass-balance, and segregated palm oil. Currently, palm oil credits can be purchased through Green Palm (www.greenpalm.org).

NOTE: Organic palm oil is identity preserved.  If you purchase organic palm oil from one of the few suppliers in the world, including Ciranda who has signed our pledge, your company is probably already committed to environmental sustainability.  Go a step further and ensure that your supplier is also committed to social and environmental responsibility by engaging your supplier and ensuring that they meet the standards outlined in your company’s palm oil policy.

To gauge your company’s supply chain improvements develop metrics to measure increased environmental and social responsibility in your palm oil supply chain. Make these metrics and changes in performance public.

4. Become an advocate for change in the palm oil industry

Markets respond to the demands of consumers and buyers; it is up to us to break the palm oil industry of their negative practices.

Partner with RAN and others to participate in strategic initiatives to address issues
and impacts associated with palm oil production and supply chain management.
Interested parties that are taking concrete actions and demonstrating improvements relating to palm oil are welcome to help develop, join and collaborate on strategic initiatives relating to palm oil and deforestation and degradation.

Educate and take action with peers in the industry, customers and government to change irresponsible and controversial policies and practices and with “irresponsible suppliers”.  This might include letter writing and communicating with suppliers and regulators, not renewing contracts, point of purchase education, public talks at trade shows and meetings, interviews with media, advertisements, etc. 

Engaging suppliers privately to push them to clean up their operations is important, but going public with your company’s policy, supply chain, and metrics can send a clear message to suppliers that there is a demand for socially and environmentally responsible palm oil. Continue this commitment to transparency and public action by joining the working with other Market Leaders such as Seventh Generation, Lush and Unilever.

Commit to purchasing high quality, independently verified socially and environmentally responsible palm oil. Do not settle for RSPO “certified sustainable” without carrying out independent due diligence.

5.  Engage and reform the RSPO

As a multi-stakeholder initiative, the RSPO is struggling to instill accountability in its producer members. The RSPO is too important to fail, but until serious deficiencies are addressed in the RSPO P&C, even basic implementation is achieved by producers, and independent monitoring of RSPO certified plantations exists, it is up to all of us to push the RSPO forward. Even if your company is not a member, communicate regularly with the Executive Board, advocate for producers to live up to their RSPO commitments, and push for the RSPO to sanction members that egregiously violate RSPO P&C. If your company is already an RSPO member, become a truly active member that takes a leading role in shaping the RSPO’s future.

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A manmade inferno inside the globally renowned Tripa rainforest in Aceh, Indonesia is pushing this forest’s unique population of Sumatran orangutans to the brink of extinction. Destruction inside palm oil plantation leases is driving the end of this great lowland forest, despite years of efforts by local communities to defend their forests and livelihood.
When they were just eleven years old, Michigan Girl Scouts Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen discovered an alarming fact while completing research for their Girl Scout Bronze Awards: most Girl Scout cookies are packed with palm oil, an ingredient that causes the destruction of irreplaceable rainforests and threatens the survival of humankind’s closest relative, orangutans.