Unilever exerts further pressure on Sustainable Palm Oil Roundtable

By Leah Armstrong

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Palm oil, Unilever

Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman has re-stated the importance of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as a crucial measure in reducing deforestation.

As the co-founder of RSPO in 2004, along with WWF, Polman’s words reflect the company’s stance on the conversion to sustainable palm oil.

Necessary target for climate change

Polman drew attention to the issue at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen, as part of a broader speech which called for governments to support a moratorium on deforestation as a crucial measure to tackle climate change.

Specifically, he focused on the production of palm oil as one of the main drivers of deforestation in South East Asia, particularly Indonesia. Over 43 million tons of palm oil is produced worldwide, being used as an ingredient in food, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and detergents.

Unilever has been assembling a coalition of international businesses including L’Oreal, Colgate and Tesco in an effort to tackle this issue.

Renewed Pressure on RSPO

Polman is the latest to voice concerns over the sustainable production of palm oil. Earlier last month, WWF highlighted the impotency of the RSPO pledge to convert to a sustainable product, revealing that only 1% of the sustainable palm oil produced has been bought.

As one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods, featuring brands such as Dove and Vaseline, their support for environmental change could serve as a reminder to other companies of the importance of investing in sustainable product. His words may, therefore, be well received by those who are looking to the RSPO to step up their act.

WWF has also exerted pressure on the RSPO to commit to conversion, issuing an ultimatum to the industry to use 100% certified sustainable palm oil by 2015.

The destruction of the world’s tropical rainforests accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gases- more than the entire transport sector. We believe that we are at a point in time where, if the government and industry work effectively together to address the problem of deforestation, we can make real progress”,​ said Polman.

The company also announced that it would ‘review a network of 250 Unilever factories around the world, evaluating how agricultural raw materials are sourced”.

In conclusion Polman stated “None of these things are easy, but we must not squander any opportunity to make progress”.

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