Unilever to source all palm oil from traceable sources by 2014
Unilever has made a pledge to buy all of its palm oil from known and traceable sources by the end of 2014, a part of its target to procure the controversial oil from certified sources by 2020.
Purchasing around 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3% of the world's total production, Unilever is one of the world's major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo.
Because of its heavy palm oil use, the company was a founder member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which, since 2004, aims to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain.
Unilever's chief procurement officer Marc Engel stressed that market transformation is only possible if everyone involved takes responsibility and is held accountable for driving a sustainability agenda.
"Our progress has been made possible by the commitment and efforts of a number of our strategic suppliers. We will continue to engage with our suppliers, NGOs, governments, RSPO, end users and other industry stakeholders to develop collaborative solutions to halt deforestation, protect peat land, and to drive positive economic and social impact for people and local communities," said Engel.
Many industries have come under fire recently for their use of palm oil and the impact it is having on tropical forests. In September, some of the biggest brands in skincare including Clarins, Estée Lauder and Superdrug, were linked to the destruction of tropical rainforests through the use of palm oil.
However, Unilever, and other heavy users of palm oil such as Nestle, have made strong commitments to improve palm oil procurement.
WWF's Market Transformation Initiative director Richard Holland said: "Unilever's 2014 commitment marks a very promising step on the continuing journey towards real market transformation to sustainable palm oil.
"Unilever's role and actions have been instrumental on this journey so far. They helped us establish the RSPO in 2004 and have been closely involved in its development into a credible institution and standard," added Holland.