How we rate companies for Palm Oil policy
Companies will receive one of the following ratings in our Palm Oil column on our ethical score table. This lists the requirements for large companies, though we're a bit more lenient with small and medium companies that have demonstrated a strong commitment to sourcing sustainable palm and derivatives.
Companies that demonstrate no or minimal commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil receive a worst rating (see middle rating for what is considered adequate commitment).
For large companies to score a middle rating, all palm oil and derivatives must be certified as sustainable by the RSPO - but this alone isn’t adequate. They must also do one of the following: list all their mills and producers, ensure that at least 50% of their palm oil comes from Segregated or Identity Preserved mechanisms, or publish an annual grievance list.
We give companies a best rating if they don't use any palm oil or derivatives.
Large companies can also score a best rating if all palm oil and derivatives are certified by the RSPO, with at least 50% coming from segregated or identity preserved mechanisms, they list all their mills and producers, and publish an annual grievance list. And they should ensure none of their producers are on a list of suppliers that lack ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ policies.
As consumers we need to use our power at the check out to continue to drive change in the palm oil industry. Pushing companies to buy certified sustainable palm oil is one clear way of doing this.
There is a growing recognition that even if all the big western manufacturers stopped using palm oil, the problems of unsustainable production would not go away.
India and China each consume more palm oil than the EU, and production is projected to increase 50% by 2020. At the same time, Indonesia has just increased subsidies to boost palm oil production for biofuel.
If countries with more developed consumer campaigns turn away from palm oil altogether, the most damaging forms of production may prevail.
Buy or Boycott?
Consumers increasingly want to avoid the ingredient where possible, but it's a tricky task as it's used in so many products - more than 50% of packaged supermarket products from margarine and oven chips to soaps and detergents.
We are urging readers to boycott products from companies that aren't using 100% certified palm oil now. Promising to source responsibly in the future is no longer good enough. You may also choose to avoid products containing any palm oil, whether it be certified or not.