A Step in the Right Direction, A New Charter Introduced for the Palm Oil Industry

As of late, it seems more bad news breaks everyday about the ever questionable palm oil industry. From deforestation to endangering species and stomping on human rights, the industry sure really needs an overhaul! The evolution of the palm oil industry may have taken a step in the right direction as the Palm Oil Innovations Group (POIG), along with conservation groups and environmental activists, look to support the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in producing and implementing higher standards of environmental responsibility, partnerships with communities and corporate, as well as product integrity in a new Palm Oil Innovations Group Charter.

The new charter looks to make the palm oil supply chain from grower to consumer into a more tolerable industry for the environment and people while also encouraging growth.  To do this, they are building upon the already established RSPO.

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The RSPO is a membership based organization who’s vision is to “transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm.” Although the RSPO is a well intentioned organization, there is not much follow through on actual requirements and responsibilities. The organization has no sanctions on members, no penalties, and are not legally effective, which results in offending companies to get away with irresponsibility up and down the supply chain.

The new charter will help to make this organization more effective in its vision and hold companies to a higher standard of responsibility.

The environmental organization Greenpeace is part of the charter and explained to  Mongabay that they “are building a strong case that palm oil does not need to be linked to forest destruction and exploitation. From producer and traders, through to palm oil consumers, [they] are creating an approach that can be replicated across the industry, and which will increase demand for responsible palm oil.”

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However, with the new push for environmental and social responsibility in the palm oil industry, some members of RSPO already feel the requirements are too much.

Mongabay reports major Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil companies feel they should not have to follow the criteria upheld by RSPO because they sell to countries where environmental responsibility is not a concern. These countries include China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. All of these countries have significant fishing populations that won’t peak until 2075, and on top of the fishing population comes the increasing amount of resources and food these populations are consuming. The lack of education over conservation is startling in these countries and this situation proves public awareness really does have an impact on the priorities of a company.

The palm oil industry is becoming a tough sell for those who have been educated on the impacts and irresponsibility of the industry. It is through enforcement of responsibilities and education that the tide of destructive palm oil production may be reeled in to prevent further harm to the globe. But this will take time. If the palm oil industry cleans up their act, would you consider using palm oil?

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Image Source: Craig Morey/Flickr