Unilever expands sustainable palm oil supply

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 8th April 2010

Unilever announced yesterday that it has secured enough GreenPalm certificates to supply its European, Australian and New Zealand businesses with sustainable palm oil.

The move is part of Unilever’s commitment to purchase all of its palm oil from sustainable sources by 2015.

“This is an important achievement and a significant step in our journey towards sustainable palm oil sourcing,” Gavin Neath, Unilever’s SVP of global communications and sustainability said.

“Until suitable segregated supply chains become available, GreenPalm certificates are the best option to encourage growers to comply with the requirements of the RSPO and certify their plantations as sustainable.”

“Our consumers can now confidently choose Unilever brands, in the knowledge that we are actively supporting the development of a sustainable palm oil industry,” he added.

GreenPalm is a certificate trading programme, endorsed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is designed to tackle the environmental and social problems created by the production of palm oil.

Last year, Unilever bought 180,000 GreenPalm certificates at a premium to the market price for ordinary palm oil. This accounted for over 80% of all the certificates traded globally in 2009 and the company insisted that it will double this volume in 2010.

“We hope that our actions will transform the palm oil industry and help put a stop to deforestation in south-east Asia,” Neath added.

GreenPalm has been criticised as ‘greenwash’ by some activists. The programme is a means of supporting the development of sustainable palm oil but a GreenPalm logo does not signify that a product is made from only sustainable palm oil. Campaigners are concerned about the potential for consumers to be misled.

However, food manufacturers and retailers that use GreenPalm certificates claim their use is a step in the right direction while segregated supply chains for sustainable palm oil are developed.

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