Tag Archives: sustainable palm oil

European Commission approves sustainable palm oil scheme

Last week news was published that the European Commission has approved a scheme from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil which will allow palm oil producers licensed by the RSPO to qualify for subsidies.

This decision has been met with controversy from a range of individuals including Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. Robbie said “Palm oil is driving deforestation, wildlife loss, community conflicts, and accelerating climate change. Instead of greenwashing palm oil, the EU should outright ban its use as a biofuel.”

What do you all think of the European Commission’s decision? Personally we think it’s a great step forward to acknowledge the potential of sustainably produced palm oil. Although many forms of palm oil production can be incredibly damaging to the environment, we feel that sustainable palm oil production is solution. There is such a vast range of palm oil products on the market now that production of the oil is incredibly important. Not only that but many countries economies are so dependent on the commodity.

Pushing sustainable palm oil forward is essential if we want to continue producing the oil. Let us know in the comments below what you think about the announcement. Do you feel that it’s a wrong move? Do you think the correct solution lies elsewhere? We want to hear your feedback!



Prospects and Challenges of Sustainable Palm Oil for China

The RSPO put up an interesting case study recently into the prospects and challenges of sustainable palm oil for China. Although we’ve been quiet here on the ‘What is Palm Oil’ blog for the past couple of months, we’re back to discuss this interesting topic.

The Chinese Government actually has a strategy in place to develop a ‘Harmonious Society’ by 2020 – this will be focused on human progress, social civilization and sustainable development. As China are one of the world’s top importers of palm oil they could potentially be very influential when it comes to sustainable development.

The RSPO have outlined principles and criteria for sustainability into a certification system. This certification system is then being rolled-out throughout the world. Europe has currently shown the largest uptake and interest from both producers and from the demand side interestingly enough.

Palm oil is not only the most widely traded vegetable oil in the world, but has also recently become the first greatest import variety of vegetable oil for China. In the past 2 years China’s average volume of palm oil imported has hit over 6 million tons! This large increase in imports means that China will have a significant influence over palm oil producers.

RSPO’s study goes into multiple different policy options for the promotion of sustainable palm oil in China. However we feel the most important one is the establishment of a national policy objective for sustainable palm oil. This would be a national policy set by the Chinese Government stating that China should only import and use any palm oil which has been produced in a sustainable manner. These sustainable palm oil production methods will obviously have to meet the internationally recognised standards mentioned above. This policy would put huge pressure on the producers to only produce the palm oil sustainably, therefore increasing the amount of sustainably produced palm oil worldwide.

What kind of policy changes do you think China should adopt to promote sustainable palm oil? Do you think 2020 is a reasonable goal for hitting their targets? If you’d like to read the full study you can grab the PDF from the RSPO site here.

Palm oil production needs to be sustainable

Palm oil production is big business in Malaysia. However, this labour intensive industry is offering very low wages at $150 per month; this is attracting migrant workers from poorer neighbouring countries including Bangladesh and Indonesia.

The Malaysian government have introduced a new minimum wage scheme, which will take a monthly income working in a palm oil plant to $300 a month, but this is still under the poverty line. The palm oil plantations are worried that targets will not be met, unless more work visas are created to meet the demand of palm oil production.  More jobs need completion by the people of Malaysia.

Creating sustainable palm oil is important and it is vital to focus on creating fair trade jobs – where the worker receives a reasonable rate of pay for the work done.  Palm oil is a commodity used in many products including biscuits, breads, cakes, crisps, frozen food and bio-fuel.

There are so many issues surrounding the production of sustainable farming including environment, legal and issues.  Not only underpaid workers, but also orangutans are victims to this multi-billion dollar industry.

The demand for palm oil is growing – and fast. The palm oil plant is increasingly being used in biodiesel, to feed this ever-growing demand, rainforests and peatlands throughout South East Asia are destroying the eco-system.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) established in 2001, to prevent unethical actions including environmental and social problems. The GreenPalm programme awards a certificate for each tonne of palm oil, which has been sustainable produced. These GreenPalm certificates work in a similar process as carbon credits.

Sustainable Palm Oil Is a Growing Concern

Palm oil is a commodity that is highly in demand. Since the eve of the second millennium, governments have been prioritising on developing a greener planet.  Car manufacturers are focused on building clearer and more efficient cars.

Countries that produce palm oil including: Malaysia, Colombia and Indonesia are under pressure to supply the demand. Sustainability is a growing concern. There is a huge threat to wildlife and rain forests in tropical regions. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) established in 2003,  tackle the problems of deforestation and the growing regions of peat lands. As a result, the number of orangutans have declined and now classed as endangered species.

The responsibility of the RSPO is to enforce sustainable palm oil regulations. Oil palms are highly efficient oil producers each fruit containing 50% of oil. The palm oil tree produces more oil than any other oil plant per hectare.

Palm oil can be a highly sustainable resource if planned properly. As the global demand increases, it is important to keep the rainforests safe and natural habitats preserved.

In 2011, the Cameroon palm oil project has evidence that threatens the eco-system of west Central Africa.  Doctors and environmental experts wrote to National Geographic stating their concern of this project and that numerous laws and RSPO rules are in violation.

Some of the violations include the proposed 70,000 hectare palm oil plantation is unsuitable for most wildlife species. The project will require large dense area of high-canopy forest to be removed in order to plant oil palms, resulting in additional carbon dioxide, resulting to an incline of deforestation and the decline of certain species.

It is imperative, that regulations are in place to protect local communities and the current ecosystem.  Sustainability is an important aspect of any farming infrastructure, the developing quality regulations and practices, sustainable farming is highly achievable.

First African Palm Oil Plantation Given RSPO Certification

palm oil

Agrivar Agro Industrie Variée has been labelled as the very first African Palm Oil Plantation to be given an RSPO Certification. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) follow a series of strict guidelines which a palm oil plantation must meet to be certified. Agrivar Agro Industrie Variée is based in Bonoua Town, in the Ivory Coast, just 60km south of Abijan. The organisation currently employs a total of 91 people, including 20 women.

This is brilliant news for the palm oil industry, especially considering many foresee that Africa will become one of the leading nations for palm oil production, in the near future. Malaysia and Indonesia currently dominate the supply of palm oil, however they’re recently facing land issues. With Agrivar leading the charge, we expect to see many other palm oil plantations across the region also become RSPO certified over the next couple of years.

Any palm oil plantation which becomes RSPO certified must follow a series of specific internal goals which fall under the following range of different headings:

  • Customer Loyalty
  • Benefits
  • Market leadership
  • Development
  • Employee Engagement
If you’d like to see the full range of RSPO certified palm oil plantations, the RSPO website has a handy list available here.

Palm Oil Conference – POC2012

The Palm Oil And Lauric Oils Conference & Exhibition Price Outlook (POC) is only a week away! The event is held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on a yearly basis. Key players in the palm oil industry attend from over 40 countries annually. The event will be held this year on March 5th-7th, meaning you only have a week left to get registered!

The palm oil and lauric oils conference and exhibition is now into its 2nd decade. The event not only provides attendees with a brilliant networking opportunities, but will also offer a variety of important informative discussions regarding the future of the palm oil and edible oil industries.

If you have any kind of interest in the palm oil industry, then we strongly recommend you attend POC2012. From the event you’ll be able to get quality tips and advice from industry experts. As previously stated, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to network with industry professionals.

This March, huge names will be attending the event, including the certificate trading programme, GreenPalm. POC2012 has been organised by Bursa Malaysia Derivatives, and is extremely important for the development of the price outlook on the palm oil market.

If you’re interested to find out more about POC2012, be sure to visit their official website – http://www.pocmalaysia.com

Palm Oil – GreenPalm

The demand for palm oil is constantly increasing – more manufacturers are using palm oil in their products every day. Sadly this palm oil is often sourced from unsustainable production plantations, which as a result are causing deforestation and various other forms of pollution.  As a result of this many consumers have taken a stand, and are even boycotting any product containing palm oil.

We believe however that this is not the way to approach the situation, but instead more and more people should be supporting sustainably produced palm oil. Palm oil is present in hundreds of products nowerdays, and is seen as a necessity; therefore it’s unrealistic to believe it’ll be eradicated from these products altogether. Sustainable palm oil however completely removes any issues of deforestation and pollution.

Organisations such as GreenPalm have been set up to help promote sustainable palm oil. GreenPalm is a certificate trading programme which tackles both the environmental and social issues caused by palm oil production. Suppliers can then reward palm oil producers for working sustainably, whilst telling their customers that they’ve sourced sustainable palm oil. Major organisations such as Cadbury’s use GreenPalm’s certificate trading programme.

In the next few years we expect even more major players to jump on board with GreenPalm’s certificate trading programme, and use sustainably sourced palm oil. We’d like to think eventually almost all palm oil will be sustainably sourced. If you have any organisations which help spread the word about sustainable palm oil, please don’t hesitate to get in touch so that we can cover them in a future blog post.