2015 was the deadline year by which many companies promised to use 100% sustainable palm oil. While many companies made commendable strides forward and honored their commitments, others made little progress or took no action at all.
The WWF Palm Oil Scorecard looked at the performance of 137 retailers, manufacturers and food service companies on sustainable palm oil in 2015 - the key year in the global journey to transform the industry. Between them, these 137 brands use more than 6 million tonnes of palm oil and represent roughly 10% of global use.
We looked at the fundamental actions expected of any company that uses palm oil. No matter what the size of the company or which sector they are in, they should have:
Given the availability of CSPO, there is no excuse for any company not to be covering 100% of their palm oil use with RSPO-certified palm oil.
It is vital that companies understand their progress on palm oil and are transparent in sharing this with customers and stakeholders such as WWF. Only by setting targets and reporting on progress publicly can companies show their customers how well they are doing and can stakeholders understand how quickly the industry is progressing.
Only 109 of the 137 assessed companies reported either to WWF or to the RSPO – unfortunately too many companies are still being secretive about their efforts.
Out of the 137 companies 30 had no sort of public commitment to use CSPO at all and only 78 had commitments to be 100% by 2015 – the year widely declared by the industry itself as being their target ‘tipping point’.
Of the 137 brands, 110 are RSPO members themselves or because their subsidiaries are members – a key indicator that the RSPO has been instrumental in getting the industry to be more open.
In addition to joining the RSPO and reporting progress, WWF also asks companies using palm oil to commit to buying CSPO and to moving as fast as possible to buying only 100% CSPO. On this measure unfortunately we see less progress.
Out of 137 companies, only 96 reported that they used any CSPO at all in 2015.
Out of 137 companies only 59 were using 100% CSPO by 2015. Many companies still kept their target to use 100% CSPO by 2015 despite then reporting that they had fallen substantially short of their own aspirations. This is deeply disappointing progress in the face of the urgency of the problems of deforestation, climate change and conflict which plague the unsustainable palm oil industry.
But among this pessimistic story there are companies that are progressing well on the journey to sustainable palm oil. Both large and small brands have managed to deliver on the promises. Between them the 97 companies using CSPO bought almost 4.7 million tonnes - sending a powerful message to the growers that are getting certified.
Beyond the basics steps of joining the RSPO and buying CSPO, WWF also asks brands to shift their sourcing toward fully segregated CSPO. This ensures their use of palm oil does not contribute to deforestation and also that the global supply chain as a whole is unable to "hide" unsustainable palm oil within it.
Unfortunately on this measure we see much slower progress by brands. Only three companies used 100% segregated CSPO in 2015 – Arnott’s, Danone and Ferrero. Of these Ferrero is the largest user of palm oil – so it’s a credit to them that they have put in the effort to shift their sourcing to segregated supplies.