Palm oil can be found in almost everything you may use in your daily life, from toothpaste and breakfast cereal to your cosmetics and cleaning products.
Palm oil can be produced at higher volumes per unit area of land than other vegetable oils, such as soy or rapeseed, therefore requiring less land. It is also of massive economic importance to the countries where it is produced, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Boycotting all palm oil will not stop deforestation in these countries because there will still be demand for palm oil from customers with no interest in sustainable production.
How is palm oil manufactured?
The palm oil supply chain can be long and complex, making it hard to know exactly where the palm oil in the final product has come from.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was set up to unite the seven sectors of the palm oil industry to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. They are:
- oil palm growers
- processors and traders
- consumer goods manufacturers
- banks and investors
- environmental NGOs,
- social and development NGOs
RSPO Supply Chain Models
There are four supply chain systems through which RSPO certified palm oil or palm oil derivatives can be purchased:
- ‘Identity Preserved’
- ‘Mass Balance’
- ‘Book and Claim’
‘Identity Preserved’ CSPO is kept separate from non CSPO and can be traced throughout the supply chain.
‘Segregated’ certified palm oil is kept separate to non-certified palm oil throughout the supply chain, but can be blended with other CSPO and cannot be traced back to its original plantation.
‘Mass Balance’ certified palm oil is mixed with non-certified palm oil but is measured and monitored throughout the supply chain so that claimed volumes are matched.
In the ‘Book and Claim’ option, certified palm oil is not kept separate and its movements are not monitored. This is a trading system where the retailer or manufacturer purchases RSPO Credits (formerly known as GreenPalm) from an RSPO certified grower, to offset each tonne of palm oil and palm kernel that they use.
This system is a much cheaper option and more feasible for producers who are unable to access segregated or mass balance CSPO supply chains. It also means that companies using derivatives of palm oil that are not yet available as CSPO can still buy certificates to support the production of CSPO; however, companies using Book and Claim may still be using oil that comes from unsustainable sources, and may therefore still be supporting producers who are not acting responsibly.
Smallholders are responsible for 40% of global palm oil production. It is important that they are also supported to achieve sustainable palm oil production.
An initiative by the World Resources Institute (WRI) on forests and landscapes in Indonesia, Project POTICO, uses novel mapping techniques and community engagement to help shift palm oil development from forested to already-degraded lands. Forests, communities, and businesses can all benefit from this more efficient use of land and natural resources.
A report by Oxfam has found that 5 crops – rice, soy, corn, wheat and palm oil – emit more greenhouse gases than any country except USA and China.
Unilever is one of the world’s largest users of palm oil, using around 3% of the world’s annual production. They have developed the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which commits them to source 100% RSPO CSPO by 2020.
Please find a list of infographics below. We are updating this page and more content is coming soon:
- Are Boycotts the Answer?
- Book and Claim Supply Chain Model
- GreenPalm: Making a difference since 2008 – 2014
- Identity Preserved Supply Chain Model
- Segregated Supply Chain Model
- Mass Balance Supply Chain Model
- Mass Balance VS. Segregated (WWF)
- Book and Claim Supply Chain Model
- Palm and Palm Kernel Supply Chain – Fractions Derivatives & Product Uses
- Palm Oil Manufacturing
- Project Potico
- Protection against risks to the environment and society (Palm Oil)
- Rabobank’s palm oil infographic
- RSPO Sustainable Palm and Palm Kernel Oil – Cost and Complexity of Segregation
- RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil: The Journey So Far 2008 – 2014
- RSPO Who We Are
- Smallholders and Sustainability
- The Cost of Conflict in Oil Palm in Indonesia
- The Palm Oil Story
- Unilever’s journey to 100% Sustainable Palm Oil
- We need tropical forests and we’re losing them to palm oil