Nestlé suspended from palm oil scheme

4 July 2018

Nestlé has been suspended from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for failing to report properly.

RSPO said Nestlé did not submit an Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) report for 2016 and its 2017 ACOP was “without a time-bound plan”.

As a result of the suspension the RSPO said Nestlé could not claim use of certified sustainable palm oil.

RSPO also said Nestlé had failed to pay a membership fee of €2,000. “We would like to also notify that Nestlé has unpaid overdue membership fee of €2,000 and non-payment of membership fees is a breach of the RSPO statutes.”

RSPO said in ACOPs members were “required to specify steps taken last year, specific steps intended for the coming year and for the long term in the form of a time-bound plan of working towards producing or buying certified sustainable palm oil”.

Nestlé said it would continue dialogue with RSPO and it hoped to “requalify in the near future”.

“We share the RSPO’s ambition for improving the social and environmental performance of the palm oil sector,” the company said.

“Our approaches to this do differ and we respect the RSPO board’s decision regarding Nestlé’s membership.”

Separately, a report has found alternatives to palm oil to be more damaging to the environment.

The report, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said palm oil is damaging diversity, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia, and damage could spill over to tropical Africa and America as production expands to meet demand.

“Areas into which palm oil could potentially expand are home to half (54%) of the world’s threatened mammals, and almost two thirds (64%) of all threatened birds,” the report found.

However other oil crops require up to nine times as much land to produce than palm oil.

This means any replacement would significantly increase the total land area used for vegetable oil production to meet global demand.

Currently oil palms produce 35% of the world’s vegetable oil on under 10% of the land allocated to oil crops.

The greatest consumers are India, China and Indonesia and 75% of all palm oil is used for food, as cooking oil and in processed foods, with the rest used in cosmetics, cleaning products and biofuel.

The report suggested improved planning of new oil palm plantations to avoid the clearing of tropical forest or peatland areas.

The report said certified palm oil has so far proven to be only marginally better in terms of preventing deforestation than its non-certified equivalent but the approach holds potential for improving sustainability.

Demand for non-food uses of palm oil, such as biofuel, should be limited and improved consumer awareness in the top consuming countries could greatly increase demand for certified palm oil.

IUCN director general Inger Andersen said: “Half of the world’s population uses palm oil in food, and if we ban or boycott it, other, more land-hungry oils will likely take its place.

“Palm oil is here to stay, and we urgently need concerted action to make palm oil production more sustainable, ensuring that all parties – governments, producers and the supply chain – honour their sustainability commitments.”

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