Is There Such A Thing As Sustainable Palm Oil – Palm oil is considered the third most affected by deforestation, after beef and soy. Southeast Asia, where palm oil is produced, is home to some of the world’s largest tropical rainforests, which are also the largest carbon sinks. China does not produce palm oil, but, after India, it is the world’s second largest market for this product. With the world facing the twin challenges of global warming and biodiversity loss, China cannot afford to.
For seven years, the world’s palm oil certification body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), has been trying to increase the share of sustainable palm oil sold in China. It had a 2020 target that 10% of palm oil sold in China would be RSPO certified. But the numbers have dwindled. Data from last April showed that the actual share was less than 2%. Industry, government and non-governmental organizations told China Dialogue that the adoption of sustainable palm oil has been slow, because different parties are working separately, rather than working together, and there is no clear path forward. However, discussions on the design are still ongoing.
Is There Such A Thing As Sustainable Palm Oil
The RSPO was founded in 2004, when growing demand for canola oil fueled deforestation and social unrest in the two producing countries, Malaysia and Indonesia, and neither had environmental legislation in place. This has led Western NGOs to criticize and condemn companies that import palm oil. In response, international companies such as Unilever and AAK, the oil and gas giant, joined WWF and the Malaysian Palm Oil Association to form the RSPO. The aim was to use the certification to solve the environmental and reputational problems that threaten the companies, the private sector and pay compensation for the lack of control in the producing countries. This would “change markets for sustainable palm oil”, as the RSPO puts it, ending the destruction of ecosystems and respecting the rights of workers and communities.
Sustainable Palm Oil: Fact Or Fiction? A Look At Rspo Certification
Despite the challenges, the RSPO is the world’s leading body to certify sustainable palm oil today, with RSPO-certified palm oil accounting for a fifth of production. Almost 90% of EU palm oil imports are RSPO certified. Now that palm oil has become common in Europe, the third largest market for palm oil, the two largest markets of India and China are becoming increasingly important. If these two countries do not expand the use of sustainable palm oil, the production of raw materials will continue to cause serious environmental and social impacts.
In 2013, the RSPO signed an agreement with the China Food and Beverage Association (CFNA), establishing a long-term and unique partnership with the RSPO in China. Finally, in 2018, RSPO and WWF joined international companies, including palm oil traders, processors, retailers and banks, to form the China Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance and lead the movement. The federation has 15 members today. Many of these are international companies that already use a large amount of sustainable palm oil in their supply chain, or are committed to sustainability. But in China, sustainable coconut oil has failed to take off and its use by Chinese companies is still low.
Yang Jiaming previously worked for an international certification body, managing RSPO certification in the Asia-Pacific region. He says that much has been achieved in the pursuit of sustainable palm oil in China, but there is no concerted effort, so they are scattered instead of progressing. ‘Cooperation. Yu Xin, coordinator of WWF’s China Sustainable Food and Sourcing project overseeing the palm oil campaign, saw the same. Asked about the biggest challenge in developing sustainable coconut oil, he said, “Challenges come from all sides, but the main challenge is that governments, industry and consumers are not taking concerted action.
He explained the situation: “The industry is asking if there is a policy, the government is asking the industry if there is a sample, consumers are saying that there are no approved products in stock, and yes the companies are saying that consumers won’t pay more.”
Nutiva Shortening & Palm Done Right
Cost is the main deterrent for Chinese companies to purchase sustainable palm oil. Certified palm oil costs between 3% and 30% more than the Chinese market, depending on the cost of obtaining certification and the requirements to meet standards.
Palm oil has a variety of uses: in nutrition, in processed foods, in health and beauty, and in the oleochemical industry. But it is not really edible and is often missing from the ingredient list, so it is not very visible. That makes it very difficult to develop decisions.
Therefore, Chinese companies tend to get approvals only when they are needed to export products. If these instructions stop, then the decision will stop. The European Union uses a large amount of sustainable palm oil, sometimes up to 100%. But the use of products targeted at the Chinese market is still low.
At a conference on sustainable supply chains for palm oil from China held last August, the panelists called for palm oil traders, a market group for products that reach China first, to take the lead. But a representative of a palm oil manufacturer and global trader said his company had already supplied more sustainable palm oil, “as it wanted.” ”The problem is that there is no demand from consumers, producers are not buying it, so there is no reason to encourage consumers to buy more.
How Sustainable Palm Oil Helps Decrease Deforestation
Globally, RSPO certification of sustainable palm oil is ahead of demand, with half of certified products being sold as illegal each year.
There are no official brands of palm oil in the Chinese market, making it difficult to know what consumers want. And so, stop. It’s a prisoner’s dilemma: anyone who works can go bankrupt while others don’t, so no one works.
How can you overcome this? Several experts told China Dialogue that the biggest obstacle to sustainable vegetable oil is the lack of visible products. An important step in the solution would be to include them as part of the package. Current food regulations allow the use of “vegetable oil” as a generic term covering palm oil. Even with the new food labeling regulations, the public consultation period ended in August 2020, it only requires vegetable oil types to be displayed on milk labels. Brands of beauty products claim all the ingredients on the list, but not the raw materials used to make those products, such as palm oil.
Soybean makes up 27% of China’s vegetable oil production, but is generally classified as “vegetable oil” (Image: Alamy)
Poverty Alleviation Part Of The Solution Toward Achieving Sustainable Palm Oil
It may take time for Chinese consumers to develop environmental concerns about foreign products, and there is little hope of a short-term impact on the market. A more practical approach would be for suppliers to take the lead. Yu Xin says, “If a certain part of the sector can provide ‘goods’, the alliance can be made.” on sustainable shea butter, so companies are careful not only to talk about their achievements. The organization also plans to publish a guideline for Chinese companies to supply shea butter, in collaboration with CFNA. This is to raise awareness of the issue among companies down and encourage collaboration between down companies on supply chain issues.
According to Yang Jiaming, sustainable development of palm oil requires a combination of top-down and top-down efforts. The Bottom Line The Chinese marketers promise palm oil and use it in quality products. That would give customers more options and allow additional value to be reflected in the price. That proposal would then create a supply chain, which would send signals to palm oil traders and increase the production of sustainable palm oil.
At the top, the government will be required to participate. Yang suggests that the government use green finance and other incentives to reward companies that import sustainable vegetable oils and increase the supply of sustainable products. It also calls for the introduction of RSPO certification and China’s own organic certification, which would help palm oil sustainably benefit from tax breaks, subsidies and government procurement. According to Yang, the law will only be enforced when all parts of the supply chain and the government are “involved.” “
Discussions are ongoing at the Chinese level on a sustainable basis, which we hope will encourage efforts by the supply chain.
The Power Of A Palm Partnership
Wan Xusheng, director of the Southern Institute for Sustainable Development (SNISD), examines sustainability standards. He told the China Dialogue that “it is unlikely that the Chinese government and companies will do everything possible” to promote foreign standards such as the RSPO. those RSPO certifications.” As part of the sustainability certification,
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