New criteria for sustainable palm oil

Good things come to those who wait. Sort of. After years of wrangling the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has finally launched improved criteria for its certification scheme.

“RSPO Next” is a voluntary initiative for companies that wish to exceed current requirements. This includes a no deforestation policy, commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and no planting on peatland.

The group’s CEO Datuk Webber called it “an important milestone”. NGOs are much less impressed.

This is a “failed upgrade”, said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Ratri Kusumohartono. “RSPO Next won’t halt deforestation nor save peatlands from drainage, yet these are the two biggest environmental problems the palm oil industry faces,” she explained.

The critical issue – as has been the case for some time – remains the definition of ‘No Deforestation’. Instead of going with a strong, proven methodology such as the high carbon stock approach, the RSPO has “compromised” with a net carbon approach, Kusumohartono argued.

Some of the biggest food companies have already started to introduce policies that go above and beyond CSPO.

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