Quantcast

World's Largest Palm Oil Trader Ramps Up Zero-Deforestation Efforts

Business
Deforestation on peatland for palm oil plantation in Borneo, Indonesia. glennhurowitz / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The world's largest palm oil trader released plans on Monday to increase its efforts to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain.

Wilmar International, which supplies 40 percent of the world's palm oil, has teamed up with the sustainability consultancy Aidenvironment Asia to develop a comprehensive mapping database to better monitor the company's palm oil supplier group.


More than 80 percent of Wilmar's palm oil comes from third-party suppliers. Greenpeace, which has long pressured the palm oil giant to monitor its suppliers across all of their operations, hailed the move as a "potential breakthrough."

"Wilmar supplies palm oil to most of the world's major food and cosmetics brands. So today's announcement is a potential breakthrough," said Kiki Taufik, Global Head of Indonesian Forests Campaign, Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a press release. "If Wilmar keeps its word, by the end of 2019 it will be using satellites to monitor all of its palm oil suppliers, making it almost impossible for them to get away with forest destruction. Greenpeace will be watching closely to make sure Wilmar delivers."

The production of the widely used vegetable oil—which is found in chocolate, baked goods, soaps, biofuel and much more—has cleared much of Malaysia's and Indonesia's tropical rainforests and is linked to wildlife habitat degradation, human rights violations and climate change.

The new plan commits Wilmar "to map its suppliers' entire landbank by the end of 2019, as well as concessions from which it does not yet source," according to Greenpeace. The database will also allow high-resolution satellite monitoring to check for deforestation or development on peat. Suppliers that are caught will be immediately suspended.

The new initiative adds weight to Wilmar's current No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy.

"Companies in the palm oil supply chain will now gain better visibility into the plantation companies they source from in terms of their operational locations and especially their compliance with the NDPE policy," Eric Wakker, co-founder of Aidenvironment Asia, said in a joint press release with Wilmar. "It will also allow companies to act faster against suppliers found to be involved in deforestation and peatland development."

Greenpeace is urging other palm oil brands to make similar moves to clean up the industry.

"As the world wakes up to the climate and extinction crisis, inaction is not an option," Taufik said. "Wilmar has taken an important step and must now put its plan into action immediately. Stopping deforestation requires industry-wide action. Other traders and brands must now follow with credible plans to map and monitor all of their suppliers. Equally important is action to end exploitation and human rights abuses in the palm oil sector."

Last month, Greenpeace released a report that accused Oreo cookie maker Mondelēz International of sourcing palm oil from "rainforest destroyers." Mondelēz gets much of that supply from Wilmar International, the group said.

In the report, Greenpeace said that between 2015 and 2017, 22 of the company's palm oil suppliers destroyed more than 70,000 hectares of rainforest in Southeast Asia—an area bigger than the city of Chicago—of which 25,000 hectares was forested orangutan habitat.

Greenpeace's report came a day after Mondelēz announced it has excluded 12 upstream suppliers as a result of deforestation practices.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Individual standing in Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Jill Carlson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis

Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Read More Show Less
A pregnant woman works out in front of the skyline of London. SHansche / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.

Read More Show Less
Ten feet of water flooded 20 percent of this Minot, North Dakota neighborhood in June 2011. DVIDSHUB / CC BY 2.0

By Jared Brey

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle last October, it killed at least 43 people, caused an estimated $25 billion in damage and destroyed thousands of homes.

Read More Show Less
A protestor holds up her hand covered with fake oil during a demonstration on the U.C. Berkeley campus in May 2010. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Forest fire continues to blaze in Indonesesia on Sept. 18. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Indonesia over their possible connections to the massive wildfires raging in the nation's forest, officials said this week.

Read More Show Less

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.

Read More Show Less
Covering Climate Now / YouTube screenshot

By Mark Hertsgaard

The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."

Read More Show Less