That palm oil plantation used to be forest... photo: Achmad Rabin Taim via flickr
Saying that only 1% of the sustainably produced palm oil supplies available on the market are actually being purchased, WWF has announced that over the next six months it will be assessing the state of sustainable palm oil, whether companies that have committed to purchasing sustainable oil are doing so, and release a palm oil buyer's scorecard:This scorecard will,
...rank the commitments and actions of major global retailers, manufacturers and traders that buy palm oil. Companies will be scored on a variety of criteria relating to their commitments to, and actions on, sustainable palm oil. The resulting scores will not only help consumers evaluate the performance of these companies but will also encourage the companies themselves to better support the use of sustainable palm oil.
WWF points out that though some 1.3 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil has been produced by members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, less than 15,000 tonnes have actually been sold.
Why Sustainable Palm Oil, In a Nutshell
In case all of this fuss about palm oil is new to you: Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest producers of palm oil in the world. In the drive to produce more palm oil, for use in food and health products or in biodiesel, more and more forest is chopped down—in the process releasing vast amounts of stored carbon in the soil and reducing the carbon storage potential of the region, as well as destroying habitat for orangutans and other endangered species.
But you don't have to grow oil palms in vast plantations and in an unsustainable manner; which is where the RSPO comes in. Though there has been some controversy surrounding its effectiveness, the RSPO works with some 300 member companies to help ensure that no more rainforest is chopped down for palm oil plantations, that all plantations minimize their environmental impact, and that the rights of local people and plantation workers are respected in producing palm oil.
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