The Dove brand owner is one of the world's major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as, soap and shampoo, as well as margarine and ice cream; and purchases around 1.5 million tons of Palm Oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3% of the world's total production.
This new step will hopefully help to make a sustainable future, and is one that the company hopes will catch on throughout the personal care and food industries.
"Market transformation can only happen if everyone involved takes responsibility and is held accountable for driving a sustainability agenda,” says Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer.
“Our progress has been made possible by the commitment and efforts of a number of our strategic suppliers. We will continue to engage with our suppliers, NGOs, governments, RSPO, end users and other industry stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to halt deforestation, protect peat land, and to drive positive economic and social impact for people and local communities."
Richard Holland, Director of WWF's Market Transformation Initiative adds that Unilever's 2014 commitment marks a very promising step on the continuing journey towards real market transformation to sustainable palm oil, one which he feels more companies need to take note of.
“Unilever's role and actions have been instrumental on this journey so far. They helped us establish the RSPO in 2004 and have been closely involved in its development into a credible institution and standard,” says Holland.
Journey far from over
Unilever has also matched its commitment with action on buying RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.
As such, the WWF has ranked Unilever amongst the top scorers in the industry in its Palm Oil Scorecard, which looks at global companies and how effective they are in striving for sustainable palm oil usage.
However, Holland warns that the journey is far from over for Unilever or industry in general.
“We will continue to work with Unilever and others through the RSPO to encourage further certification by growers and buying of certified palm oil by manufacturers and retailers,” he continues.
“WWF also encourages leading companies in the sector to set the industry benchmarks on important issues like traceability, protection of peat lands, significant GHG reductions and no deforestation. We urge other companies along the palm oil value chain to follow the lead shown by Unilever.”