NEODA is committed to sustainable development of sourcing, production and consumption practices. As well as being Affiliate members of the RSPO, we work closely with government bodies and other organisations, to ensure sustainable practices are being used within the industry.
NEODA are Affiliate members of the RSPO – Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Affiliate Members are any individuals or organisations that have indirect involvement or interest in the palm oil supply chain. It is mandatory for Affiliate members to submit an Annual Communication of Progress (ACOP) report annually to gauge their progress towards 100% RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
Who is RSPO?
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders.
The RSPO is a not-for-profit organisation that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry: oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.
The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.
The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO. Further information about RSPO can be found at: www.rspo.org
What is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil?
We call it palm oil that was certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) according to specific criteria. By respecting those criteria, we can help to reduce the negative impacts of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities.
Why do we use palm oil?
Palm oil is used in many of the products on supermarket shelves, from margarine and chocolate to ice cream, soaps, cosmetics, and fuel for cars and power plants. The reason why palm oil is so popular is because:
- It has great cooking properties – it maintains its properties even under high temperatures.
- Its smooth and creamy texture and absence of smell make it a perfect ingredient in many recipes, including baked goods (such as biscuits) in particular.
- It has a natural preservative effect which extends the shelf life of food products.
- It is also the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, which makes it very efficient. It needs less than half the land required by other crops to produce the same amount of oil. This makes palm oil the least expensive vegetable oil in the world.
- For sustainability reasons, it is better to switch to sustainable palm oil than to other vegetable oils.
What is the impact of palm oil farming on the environment?
In some regions, oil palm cultivation has caused – and continues to cause – deforestation. This means that land, which was once predominantly covered by primary forest (forest that has never been touched by man) or which housed protected species and biodiversity, was cleared in order to be converted into palm oil plantations.
Likewise, some palm oil plantations were developed without consulting local communities over the use of their land. Some have even been responsible for forcibly displacing people from their land. Violations of workers’ rights to fair payment and safe working conditions and other malpractices have also occurred.
Despite widely-reported malpractices in the industry, a growing number of players in the palm oil industry have committed to adopting more sustainable practices. The result of this gradual transition is an increasing amount of palm oil in our products that has been produced and sourced in a sustainable manner.
Why can't we simply replace palm oil?
Although using other vegetable oils seems like a practical solution, it would actually create similar – if not even larger – environmental and social problems. Therefore, the best solution is to ensure you buy products that contain sustainable palm oil.
There is a misconception that social and environmental problems can be addressed when companies simply stop using palm oil in their products. However, this is not as easy as it sounds for a number of reasons:-
Replacing palm oil with other types of vegetable oil (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) would mean that much larger amounts of land would need to be used, since palm trees produce 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. This would result in serious environmental damage, with the risk that more forests would need to be converted into agricultural land.
In producing countries, millions of farmers and their families work in the palm oil sector. Palm oil plays an important role in the reduction of poverty in these areas. In Indonesia and Malaysia, a total of 4.5 million people earn their living from palm oil production. Stopping the production of palm oil altogether would create significant problems for these people who support their families by working in this industry.
Replacing palm oil with other types of oil is not always feasible due to palm oil’s unique properties as food ingredient. Using other oils would not give the products the same texture and taste that palm oil offers.
Why is sustainable palm oil so important?
- It fulfils increasing global food demand;
- It supports affordable food prices;
- Supports poverty reduction;
- Safeguards social interests, communities and workers;
- Protects the environment and wildlife
What is the RSPO doing to protect the environment?
In 2008, the RSPO developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimise negative impacts.
One of the most important RSPO criteria states no primary forests or areas which contain significant concentrations of biodiversity (e.g. endangered species) or fragile ecosystems, or areas which are fundamental to meeting basic or traditional cultural needs of local communities (high conservation value areas), can be cleared.
Other RSPO principles stipulate a significantly reduced use of pesticides and fires; fair treatment of workers according to local and international labour rights standards, and the need to inform and consult with local communities before the development of new plantations on their land.
Only by being RSPO-certified by an independent auditor approved by the RSPO can producers claim that they produce, use and/or sell sustainable palm oil.
What is the UK Government doing?
European governments are recognising their responsibility to address tropical deforestation by increasing demand for certified sustainable palm oil. The Amsterdam Declarations (Ads) were launched in 2015 and were signed in relation to the Paris Climate Agreement underlining the global importance to preserve primary forests and high conservation value areas, amongst others, through responsible supply chain management. The ADs were signed by Denmark (DK), France (FR), Germany (DE), Italy (IT) the Netherlands (NL), Norway (NO) and the United Kingdom (UK).
The UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya
In the summer of 2017 major UK companies and industry associations, from commodity traders to retailers asked for government support in convening the soya industry to address growing concerns about the link between soya and tropical deforestation and conversion of native vegetation. Considerable efforts have been made to halt deforestation, through global-leading environmental legislation such as the Forest Code in Brazil, to the industry-led Amazon Soy Moratorium that since 2006 has dramatically reduced forest loss in the Amazon Biome.
Despite this, the expansion of soya production, alongside cattle ranching, timber and land speculation has continued to be a significant driver in the loss of native vegetation in South America, with consequent impacts on bio-diversity, carbon emissions, water systems and local communities.
Soya is imported into the UK directly as soya bean, meal or oil and indirectly within finished products with an estimate of over 3 million tonnes of soya bean equivalents.
In the UK, a significant number of companies have already committed to eliminating deforestation associated with soya through a range of initiatives including the Statement of Support for the Cerrado Manifesto and the Consumer Goods Forum ‘zero-net deforestation” commitment and are now seeking to accelerate the implementation of these changes and support.
The UK government seeks to build long term business and trade opportunities with soya-producing countries through bilateral partnerships and international climate finance. The UK government also has clear commitments to support private-sector led efforts to eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains. These are articulated in the New York Declaration on Forests (2014), the Amsterdam Declarations towards eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains (2015) and the 25 Year Environment Plan (2018).