WASHINGTON (December 5, 2013) – Wilmar, a leading Singapore-based food products company, today announced a commitment to supplying palm oil that is deforestation-free and does not violate human rights. Wilmar processes or trades more than 45 percent of the world’s palm oil supply. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) applauds Wilmar’s announcement, but the company must prove that it’s serious in implementing the commitment. UCS served as an informal advisor to the process that resulted in the No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy, particularly on scientific issues relating to deforestation and peat.
Palm oil, the dominant vegetable oil on the market today, is used in everything from food and fuel to beauty products and cleaning agents. The demand for palm oil has risen dramatically in recent years and is a major driver of deforestation. Ten percent of all global warming emissions result from deforestation, and this practice destroys irreplaceable forests that are home to endangered species and a resource for forest-dependent communities.
Below is a statement by Sharon Smith, palm oil campaign manager for UCS’s Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative:
“If Wilmar is genuine in its commitment to deforestation-free, peat-free, exploitation-free palm oil, this could be a game-changer for the industry.
“Consumer goods companies want traceable palm oil that protects forests, peatlands and human rights. But most major palm oil producers and traders, like Wilmar, have not followed suit – until today. If these producers and traders don’t start supplying deforestation-free palm oil, they risk losing business. UCS encourages other companies to follow Wilmar and Unilever’s lead, and commit to zero-deforestation, zero-peat, and exploitation-free production and sourcing practices.”
“Wilmar ranked dead last in Newsweek’s 2012 ranking of the 500 biggest companies’ environmental performance. The company may now be turning a corner. The commitment announced today, if implemented fully, could become the industry standard for sustainable plantation expansion and palm oil trading.
“But the real work lies ahead. Wilmar’s actions in the coming months will demonstrate if they’re making a real commitment to reduce carbon footprints, modify sourcing practices, bring transparency to the palm oil supply chain, and move the industry toward meaningful transformation.
“UCS will be watching closely to see if Wilmar is serious about protecting the environment, endangered species and indigenous communities.”