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While many palm oil buyers are taking the right actions on palm oil, some have failed to keep their promises to consumers or are still doing nothing at all to help reduce deforestation and other adverse impacts of producing the world’s most popular vegetable oil in some of the most vulnerable tropical habitats around the world.
The 2016 edition of WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, looks at 137 major retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and food service companies from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan and India. Evaluated companies include such iconic brands as Carrefour, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Tesco, and Walmart among others.
As with previous WWF Palm Oil Scorecards, this one measures how companies performed on basic steps such as joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), committing to and buying sustainable palm oil, and transparency. The Scorecard focuses on the year 2015, by which many companies pledged to consumers that they would be using 100% certified palm oil.
“WWF has published this Scorecard in 2016 because we wanted to evaluate what companies actually did in 2015 and not just what they said they would do,” said WWF Palm Oil lead Adam Harrison. “While we can report gratifying progress by at least half of the companies we looked at, 1 in 5 either did not respond or were doing very little on palm oil and are still hiding from this issue altogether. That is unacceptable behaviour considering the easy availability of certified sustainable palm oil.”
“More than half of the companies had promised us and their customers that they would be using only certified palm oil by 2015. While most of them did achieve their targets, it is a disappointment that 21 companies did not.”
The Scorecard shows that both large and small companies can easily source certified sustainable palm oil. However, due to their buying power, large users of palm oil are crucial to the transformation of the wider industry. A handful of these large users evaluated in the Scorecard – Unilever, Ferrero, FrieslandCampina, Reckitt Benckiser, Colgate-Palmolive, and ConAgra Foods – are showing their peers exactly how they too should be driving industry change by sourcing significant volumes of certified sustainable palm oil from any of the RSPO approved supply chains. Medium sized users of palm oil scoring equally well on buying certified palm oil included Walmart, Mars, Associated British Foods, General Mills, Kellogg's, and Danone. But buying CSPO is only the first step on the journey to change the industry.
The Scorecard also looks at how fast companies are taking the next step by moving to source certified sustainable palm oil from segregated supplies, rather than relying on trading certificates.
And according to this measure, company progress is much more patchy. Only three companies used 100% segregated certified sustainable palm oil in 2015 – Ferrero, Danone and Arnott’s. Of these companies, only Ferrero uses large volumes of palm oil. WWF commends these brands for leading the way to the ultimate sustainability goal for the industry– that certified sustainable palm oil becomes the standard commodity grade for all companies while uncertified palm oil becomes unacceptable.
The 2016 Scorecard, the fourth WWF has published since 2009, scored 94 companies that were also assessed in the 2013 Scorecard. 75 of these companies made progress, while 11 seem to have stalled and 8 gone backwards. Whilst the overall direction of the sustainability journey is good for the majority of companies, WWF wants to see all brands taking responsibility for the palm oil they use.
The complete performance profile on each company is shared on the Scorecard website, as well as detailed, filterable tables showing how companies perform in comparison with others in their sector.
“The industry is at a critical stage on the journey to sustainable palm oil,” said Harrison. “More major brands are now using only certified palm oil yet laggard companies continue to drag their feet. That needs to change. WWF urges consumers to visit the Scorecard website and use it to reach out to companies to commend those that are leading the way and to tell the others to do better. We all have a role to play in demanding full participation and transparency of all palm oil buyers across the globe in order to stem the tide of deforestation and affect true sector wide transformation. “
For more information:
The 2016 Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard can be downloaded from palmoilscorecard.panda.org