POIG says the recently published charter is proof of its members’ commitment to producing responsible palm oil.
“POIG will demonstrate that by setting and implementing ambitious standards, the industry can break the link between palm oil production and the destruction of forests and peatlands, the exploitation of communities and workers, and climate change. As traders and processors, we have come together to help find solutions to the challenges the palm oil industry is facing.”
NGO-backed POIG - its members also include the Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, WWF and international labour rights association Verité - says its standards support and build on the RSPO criteria, creating “market recognition” for progressive members companies.
Food industry members include manufacturers Danone, Ferrero, Barry Callebaut and L’Oréal as well as Singapore-headquartered, Indonesian supplier Musim Mas and Colombian DAABON.
According to the charter, traders and processors must comply fully with POIG grower indicators across all of their own concessions and obtain independent verification of compliance.
They must also develop risk assessment tools to reduce the amount of palm oil linked to deforestation, human rights abuses and other unacceptable activities.
“Traders and processors will develop a time bound plan for achieving 100% of their traded and processed palm oil and palm oil products, to be verified against POIG requirements,” it says.
The charter requires traders and processors, as well as their third party suppliers, to publish on their own websites a list of all mills, refineries and plantations in their supply chain. This list must be updated every six months and include the name, location and type of product purchased, and the volume of oil that is processed in their operations.
Members must set up ‘grievance trackers’ on their websites that includes a comprehensive list of all grievances with the date, cause, nature of the complaint and the complainant’s name as well as detailing the steps taken to resolve the problem.
The charter also includes a clause on manufacturers making ‘palm-free’ claims, an issue that palm producers see as discriminatory.
“All members shall promote responsible palm oil, making specific reference to the POIG Charter and clearly communicate the rationale against a palm oil boycott. All members shall promote positive case studies and showcase innovations in procurement and production of responsible palm oil.”
POIG and RSPO
The POIG grower indicators can and should be integrated into the Principles and Criteria of the RSPO, the charter says. However, it also requires members to actively push for “reforms and improvements” of the RSPO’s audit procedures and quality control, and for “complete and comprehensive reporting” in the Annual Communication of Progress (ACOP) reports.
“All members shall advocate the phase-out of the RSPO’s Credit System with the exception made for smallholder-specific supply chains,” it states.
Through this system, manufacturers buy a ‘credit’ of certified sustainable palm oil without actually having to physically use it. According to the RSPO, a credit is proof that one tonne of certified palm oil was produced by an RSPO-certified company or independent producer, and has entered the global palm oil supply chain.
“By purchasing credits, buyers encourage the production of certified sustainable palm oil,” it says.
A 2017 EU resolution on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests recognised POIG for establishing “strong standards for responsible palm oil production” although it noted that industry has so far failed to adopt them.