A NEW sustainable palm oil scheme, set up by some of the largest companies in the palm oil industry, has been criticised by environmentalists who claim it’s “greenwashing”.
The Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto is supposed to represent an increased commitment to sustainable production right across the supply chain by companies such as Cargill, who are pledging to set higher standards for growers, traders, end users, and other stakeholders.
The Manifesto commits its signatories to no deforestation, creating traceable and transparent supply chains, while ensuring economic and social benefits for the local people and communities where oil palm is grown.
These standards aim to build upon the existing signatories’ commitments to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
However, Greenpeace and The Rainforest Action Network have spoken out claiming that the scheme is “greenwashing” because until members of the manifesto have determined what forests can be protected under the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach deforestation will continue to be allowed in some areas.
Greenpeace helped to develop HCS, which combines carbon and biodiversity conservation, as well as community rights and livelihoods to determine what land can and cannot be developed. However, the environmentalist group say that the companies who have signed up to the manifesto want to redefine the term for their own gain.
Signatories to the scheme, which include IOI Corporation Berhad, Musim Mas Group and Asian Agri, will fund research to establish what constitutes as an HCS forest and determine “appropriate thresholds that will not stifle the economic development of nations while ensuring that environmental concerns are addressed”.
Talking to FoodNavigator, Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia forest campaign, Greenpeace International, said: “Further research to strengthen the HCS Approach is welcome, but allowing clearance in the name of ‘sustainability’ is nothing less than greenwashing.
“To show they are serious about addressing deforestation, the group must immediately stop clearing potential HCS forests.”
Greenpeace is calling on companies such as Unilever, Nestlé and P&G, which have previously made sustainable palm oil pledges, “to use their power in the market to tell supplier to stop the bulldozers and demand forest protection”.