Conclusions

The WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 reveals that there has been real progress in terms of company commitments to sustainable palm oil since the 2009 Scorecard.

The problem is that these are just not translating fast enough into increased use of certified sustainable palm oil.

Sumatran orang utan (Pongo abelii) female 'Suma' reunited with male baby 'Forester' (part of baby ... / ©: naturepl.com/Anup Shah / WWF
Sumatran orang utan (Pongo abelii) female 'Suma' reunited with male baby 'Forester' (part of baby snatching story) Gunung Leuser NP, Sumatra, Indonesia
© naturepl.com/Anup Shah / WWF
The implications for companies are clear; they need to shift gears immediately and increase their use of RSPO-certified palm oil.

In spite of the welcome increase in companies with a top score since the 2009 Scorecard, in 2011 too many companies are still not doing nearly enough to ensure they meet their sustainable palm oil sourcing targets.

Need for early action to deliver on sustainable palm oil commitments

Joining the RSPO should be seen as the very first and most basic step to be taken—but even that seems to be beyond some companies. Going further, making clear public commitments to use only certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 or preferably earlier is also important, but even more essential is to take early action to deliver those commitments.

No excuses for companies not to accelerate sourcing of sustainable palm oil

The availability of a variety of options for using sustainable palm oil, coupled with the fact that there is surplus certified sustainable palm oil available, means that there are simply no excuses for companies not to accelerate their sourcing of it.

Great progress in some markets

What the Scorecard also reveals is that in some European markets (such as the UK), companies have made great progress in engaging in sustainable palm oil. While not all UK companies scored well, they are almost all showing progress.

16 of the 25 UK companies scored have close to 100% of their palm oil certified. But they must not rest on this early progress. They need to push all the harder to start using traceable certified palm oil rather than continuing to rely on Book and Claim.

Mass Balance and Book and Claim should be used as stepping stones toward the use of Segregated palm oil. Only then will we be able to say that unacceptable palm oil has been truly eliminated from the products we buy.

Not enough transparency

Another general conclusion that WWF draws from this assessment is that there is still not enough openness and transparency in the palm oil supply chain.

We found it very hard to get clear information about what exactly many companies are doing about sustainable palm oil, what their policies and commitments are and how quickly they are meeting their targets.

As a result, we relied on the information that companies disclosed, which we do not have the resources to verify. This is not the best way for the industry as a whole to communicate to its customers or to its suppliers.

Need to abide more by RSPO requirements

Not enough RSPO members are following the RSPO requirements for reporting progress, nor are they making public commitments to use only certified sustainable palm oil.

The industry as a whole is still reluctant to be open about how much palm oil individual companies use. Without basic information like this in the public domain, it will remain difficult to see how quickly companies are progressing.

Meanwhile, it will remain impossible for growers of sustainable palm oil to get a clear message from users that they should proceed with further certification.

There is still not enough openness and transparency in the palm oil supply chain.

 / ©: WWF
Click here to explore company scores using our interactive tool
© WWF
Time is running out for palm oil buyers to take action. If they fail to do so, a unique opportunity to support sustainable palm oil will have been lost. For tropical forests, this loss will be irrecoverable.

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