Procter & Gamble Offers Deforestation-Free Palm Oil Commitment

Statement by Calen May-Tobin, Union Of Concerned Scientists

Published Apr 9, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (April 9, 2014) – Procter & Gamble recently committed to sourcing deforestation-free palm oil. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Procter & Gamble’s commitment hits the right notes, but lacks the ambition of many other companies.

Palm oil is used in everything from food and fuel to beauty products and cleaning agents. As demand for the oil increases, many tropical forests are cleared to make space for palm plantations. Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 10 percent of global warming emissions.

To reduce deforestation, major companies must enact strong palm oil sourcing policies. UCS recently scored the palm oil sourcing commitments of 30 top companies, including Procter & Gamble. Procter & Gamble’s original score was only 15.5 out of 100 when the scorecard was released earlier this month.

Below is a statement by Calen May-Tobin, lead analyst with UCS’s Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative:

“Procter & Gamble’s heart is in the right place and the company’s recent palm oil sourcing commitment includes strong protections for forests and peatlands, which are carbon-rich areas of decayed vegetation—but this is certainly not the most ambitious commitment on the market.

“There are two places it falls short. First, the Procter & Gamble commitment places much of the burden of ensuring deforestation-free and peat-free palm oil on its suppliers with no clear process for verifying that suppliers are meeting these requirements. The reality is that if Procter & Gamble wants to protect tropical forests, they cannot rely on suppliers to do that for them.

“And second, the timeline is far from ambitious. The policy sets 2020 as a deadline for sourcing deforestation-free palm oil and palm kernel oil. Many of Procter & Gamble’s competitors are working towards a 2015 goal.

“Overall, the policy is a good first step, but we’re hopeful that the company will speed up the timeline and become more proactive as the commitment is implemented. The proof, after all, is in the Pantene.”