The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has analysed the palm oil sourcing commitments of 30 top companies in the packaged food, fast food, and personal care sectors and found that 24 of them have inadequate commitments or lack commitments altogether.
The fast food sector scored the worst by far. Only two fast food companies, McDonald’s and Subway, had strong enough commitments to receive points, and even those commitments were vague and outdated, the UCS said.
The personal care sector scores were mixed as many of these companies rely on Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification to meet their commitments. “This certification is an improvement over status quo production methods, but is not strong enough to protect all forests and peatlands,” said Calen May-Tobin, lead analyst for the UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative.
Nearly all the packaged food companies, except Kraft Foods, had commitments, and some were high achievers, the UCS said, but most had more work to do.
Six companies on the scorecard – personal care companies L’Oréal and Reckitt Benckiser and the packaged food companies Mondelēz, Nestlé, Unilever, and Kellogg – have already committed to purchasing palm oil that is deforestation-free, peat-free, and can be traced in a transparent way, although many would say that faster action is required.
“The scorecard shows a mere half dozen companies leading the charge, with most of the others lagging behind,” said May-Tobin.
“These corporations should live up to their ‘wholesome’ branding by demanding sustainable palm oil. To do so would save tropical forests, rich with biodiversity, and help limit the severity of climate change.
“Palm oil production often relies on clearing forests or carbon-rich peatlands for plantations. All told, tropical deforestation accounts for about 10 percent of all climate change emissions.”
May-Tobin said multinational companies held the fate of the world’s tropical forests in their hands. “If these companies demand deforestation-free, peat-free palm oil, the producers on the ground would be forced to change their palm oil practices.”
The results for all 30 companies are detailed in the UCS report, “Donuts, Deodorant, Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments”.
More detailed article to come.