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RSPO members urged to support GreenPalm until they can achieve 100% physical, sustainable palm

By Elaine WATSON , 31-Oct-2012
Last updated on 31-Oct-2012 at 13:46 GMT

RSPO members urged to support GreenPalm

A group* of palm oil growers, millers and environmental organizations has called on all members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm oil (RSPO) to support the GreenPalm certificate trading scheme until they can use 100% physical, sustainable palm.

In a draft resolution proposing amendments to the RSPO’s Principles and Criteria that will be considered at the 10th annual roundtable meeting in Singapore this week, the group says RSPO members should be able to demonstrate “continuous improvement in adapting supply chains towards 100% physical purchase of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO)”.

WWF: The more certifications that happen, the easier it will be to transition to physical supply chains

But in the meantime, they should also make an “immediate commitment to support RSPO certified palm oil through GreenPalm certificates until that goal is achieved”, it adds.

GreenPalm general manager Bob Norman said the resolution was “particularly pleasing because it shows that although GreenPalm was introduced as a short-term solution in 2008, growers and other members continue to see it as a viable option”.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA last month, World Wildlife Fund’s agriculture vice president Dave McLaughlin said manufacturers were beginning to realize that buying more GreenPalm certificates now might be the only way to stimulate enough production of sustainable palm oil to make fully traceable physical products economically viable in future.

"The more certifications that happen, the easier it will be to transition to physical supply chains and we need to recognize that this is a process that will evolve over time."

Physical certified sustainable palm oil and logos

If food manufacturers want to use the RSPO trademark and associated claim ‘This product contains certified sustainable palm oil’, they must use palm oil that has been segregated throughout the supply chain and is traceable directly back to its RSPO-certified source.

A second option – mass balance – combines some segregated RSPO certified oil and some standard oil, and allows users to use the RSPO trademark (with the word ‘Mixed’) and the claim: ‘Contributes to the production of certified sustainable palm oil’.

However, both products currently command a significant price premium owing to the expense of physically segregating RSPO-certified palm oil throughout the supply chain.

GreenPalm: An interim solution

The third option is for buyers to purchase GreenPalm certificates guaranteeing that a tonnage of palm oil/derivatives equivalent to the tonnage they use has been produced from RSPO-certified plantations.

While they can't guarantee the actual oil they are buying is sustainable, they at least know the amount they use has been produced sustainably and can use the GreenPalm logo and associated claim: ‘Supports the production of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil’.

Although some marketers worry that GreenPalm's 'supports' claim is not as appealing to consumers as the RSPO 'This product contains' claims, it offers an interim solution for where sourcing fully-segregated products is not cost effective or practical, said McLaughlin.

*The group comprises Agropalma, Carrefour, GEC, NBPOL, Olam International Limited, Oxfam, Platinum Nanochem Sd Bhd, Sawit Watch, Shell, Solidaridad and the Zoological Society of London.

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