Our actions

Palm oil in South Asia

NRSC as RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable PalmOil) affiliate member

7 workshops held for members and suppliers addressing palm issues

Beauty-industry-specific derivatives now available as SG- and MB-certified

NRSC collective commitment to no deforestation and no exploitation

NRSC members now have traceability up to mills

GROWING GLOBAL DEMAND

Palm oil is the most consumed vegetable oil on the planet. It is used primarily by the food and biofuel industries and is also incorporated into certain cosmetic products. To this day, demand for the product continues to rise sharply, primarily because of its low price and physicochemical properties. The exploitation of oil palms is a very profitable business: this oilseed plant has the highest yield per hectare and therefore attracts agro-investors from around the world seeking new land on which to develop large-scale plantations. Small producers are also interested, hoping to improve their standard of living with this additional income.

A CRITICAL SITUATION

In major palm-oil-producing countries – such as Malaysia and Indonesia – massive deforestation is accelerating to make way for oil palm plantations. These forests, sometimes primary, are important carbon sinks and are the living and breeding grounds for wildlife. Their destruction leads to an escalation in greenhouse gas emissions, massive fire-related pollution, and reduced habitats for many species already threatened with extinction. Pollution, destruction of natural habitats, harmful pressure on biodiversity and local communities – the impacts of this destruction are numerous and profound. Furthermore, palm oil is very difficult to trace and plantation practices do not always respect workers’ rights. Becoming certified is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, especially for smaller farms, though such farms are currently responsible for almost 40% of the world’s production.

COMMITTED TO BETTER TRACEABILITY

We at the NRSC, though aware of our industries’ modest role in this challenging context, nevertheless chose to join the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) in 2013 to support the principles of Sustainable Palm Oil and help transform the supply chain in positive ways through practices that more closely respect people and the environment. In 2015, the NRSC decided to incite its partners to further action, going beyond the RSPO criteria and more tangibly and firmly committing the traceability of palm oil and its derivatives used in cosmetics. The Forest Trust was assigned the task of fast-tracking implementation of an effective traceability system. Since 2016, nearly 80% of the volumes consumed by NRSC members can be traced back to the refineries. A major project was undertaken to identify the key entities along the supply chains, thereby making it possible to evaluate their techniques and commitments and support them in their evolution toward these objectives.

 

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

There is still a long road ahead: Improving the supply chain’s transparency remains a major challenge and requires developing specific tools for our members and their suppliers. We also contribute by modifying existing standards to incorporate further criteria, continuing to raise awareness among our members, and intensifying dialogue with suppliers and those upstream along the supply chain so we succeed in changing practices in positive and lasting ways. Progress is possible when all the links in the chain are working toward comprehensive transformation of the supply chain.