Palm Oil FAQ's
Inquiring Minds Promote Change.
We have been getting some great questions, and wanted to share them! Please feel free to contact us with any comments.
Q: Are the companies considered safe for orangutans and the rainforest on the Shopping Guide labeling their products as containing palm oil only from sustainable plantations? If not do they plan to do so?
A: No, the companies are not labeling their products as containing certified sustainable palm oil for several reasons. First, their products do not necessarily contain 100% certified sustainable palm oil. While that is the goal within the RSPO, there is not enough certified sustainable palm oil available for large companies to make the switch to 100% sustainable palm oil yet. Once demand for CSPO goes up, the supply will increase as well. When a company joins RSPO, they have to commit to using some portion of CSPO or buying Greenpalm Certificates, with a goal date by which they will use 100% CSPO. The second reason this is not included on packaging, as we recently found out through working closely with a local company that does use sustainable palm oil, the word "sustainable" has not yet been defined by the FDA. We were also shocked to find out that it can cost $40,000 every time a small company changes their packaging. So as far as detailed updates --such as 'this product contains 50% certified sustainable palm oil'...then 3 months later saying 'this product contains 75% certified sustainable palm oil'...this does not seem practical. We are encouraging companies to start labeling their products as orangutan friendly and we've created a logo for this purpose. You can find a sample letter to RSPO companies encouraging better labeling on our website, and you can find the logo there as well. As far as the detailed updates go, it would be great for companies to post this type of information on their websites.
Q: Who is certifying the sustainable plantations or is the RSPO just going on their word?
A: Becoming certified by the RSPO is a rigorous process. There are many criteria a plantation has to meet in order to be certified. Ultimately, the RSPO is certifying the plantations, but neutral agencies are hired to do the inspections. One example would be the HCV (high conservation value) forest assessments that a plantation must have done in order to be certified. An HCV assessment determines whether or not there are endangered species, indigenous people, waterways, etc. that will be impacted if a plantation exists in a certain area. We met with some scientists from Flora and Fauna International who are performing these assessments in Indonesia. You can find out more about what the RSPO's principles and criteria at www.rspo.org Here are a few specific documents: