Thursday, December 2, 2010

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

Sun in Palm Tree Leaves, Los Angeles/Santa Monica, United States
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Grown Man


After recently sitting through an investment meeting where I acquired a bit more knowledge on green energy and socially conscious investments I've learned something new that doesn't sit well with me. Although I heard the rumors it is only now that I've taken a good look.

The RSPO that so many of us soap makers have come to depend on just isn't what it appears to be. For those of you who may not know, the RSPO is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil. Members and participants in its activities come from many different backgrounds and include environmental NGOs, banks and investors, growers, processors, manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products and social NGOs. They come from many countries that produce or use palm oil. The principal objective of the RSPO is “to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue between its stakeholders.”


From what most of us have heard and read, buying palm oil from members of the RSPO appeared to be a good thing. For those of us who try and live environmentally conscious lives anyway. I certainly didn't want to have a hand in the destruction of the rainforest, the disappearance of Sumatran tigers and elephants, or the useless slaughter of orangutan. Instead of just focussing on finding a soap recipe I loved that didn't include palm oil I opted for the alternative, which was to buy palm oil supplied by a member of the RSPO. On the surface the RSPO seems great but the truth is always hidden underneath.

What is “sustained destruction”? Is unsustained destruction OK? And who is to determine “the interests of people in the regions”? Human rights NGOs in Indonesia have been swift to note that some companies that have obtained the RSPO seal of approval “are involved in unresolved conflicts with local communities” over land. There will be battles ahead. But nobody said sustainability was an easy concept. And debate about its meaning can, of itself, be part of the solution. CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE


Per the net, I've found these articles to shed some light on this subject for you. I could spend a lot of time typing up what most people will never read so if you are interested in this topic I suggest you not take my word for it but look deeper. Make some calls, you might be surprised at what you learn.

Despite RSPO certification, deforestation, deep peat conversion, land disputes and illegal practices continue to occur in the plantation estates owned by Cargill, Sinar Mas, and Duta Palma – all of whom are RSPO members. The RSPO is failing to enforce its own minimal principles and criteria and is not taking action on grievances filed by communities affected by RSPO members. The RSPO must revise its principles and criteria to adequately protect forests, communities and the climate by implementing a moratorium on forest and peatland conversion and by promoting the rights of smallholders and affected communities.
FULL ARTICLE HERE


As for me. I have one gallon of palm oil left in my cupboard (yup, RSPO) but it will definitely be my last until I learn from sources that I trust that harvest and production of palm oil has truthfully moved in the direction of sustainability. If that is never than I guess I will never buy palm oil again.

Ultimately the best incentive for credible RSPO is consumer demand. If consumers demonstrate with their wallets that they want credible eco-friendly palm oil, the palm oil industry will provide it. The cost of "greener" palm oil is not high — especially for buyers in rich countries. A paper I published in January with Lian Pin Koh found that the average American consumer would need to spend an extra 40 cents per year to cover the cost of switching from his or her annual consumption of palm oil from conventional to certified sources. Thus consumers have the power to change the industry. RSPO FALLING SHORT



THE OTHER OIL SPILL

IS THE RSPO REALLY LOOKING OUT FOR SMALL FARMERS?

FAILURES AND UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AT THE RSPO

RSPO ATTACKED ON MANY FRONTS

DECLARATION AGAINST GREENWASHING SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL

NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL