Singapore-based palm oil trader Golden Agri Resources (GAR) announced Friday it will extend its forest conservation policy across all of its third-party suppliers — pledging that all palm oil it produces, sources and trades will now be deforestation-free. GAR’s commitment, combined with the similarly sweeping commitment made by the world’s largest palm oil trader, Wilmar International, in December, means that over half of the world's palm oil is now covered by zero-deforestation pledges.
“GAR followed Wilmar’s lead and has committed to removing forest destruction from all the palm oil it trades. With additional commitments from consumer companies like Nestlé, Unilever, L’Oréal, Ferrero and Delhaize, the pressure is on for other palm oil producers and consumers to clean up their act and commit to forest protection,” said Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Greenpeace applauded GAR’s announcement but now says it will be watching to make sure the company follows through.
“GAR’s announcement to implement an ambitious Forest Conservation Policy for its downstream operations is a sign that the company takes its commitment seriously and is trying to minimize the impact it has on forests. The next step means putting this commitment into practice: GAR must now ensure that all the palm oil it refines and trades is not contributing to deforestation, climate change and social conflicts,” said Rahmawati.
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GAR committed to a Forest Conservation Policy in 2009 following global campaigning by Greenpeace. Indonesia loses 620,000 hectares of forest each year, with palm oil the biggest driver, contributing to wildlife habitat loss, social conflict and climate change.
In October, Greenpeace released the report A Licence to Kill, which linked a host of companies, including P&G, to the destruction of critical Sumatran tiger and orangutan habitats through their association to Wilmar International, which finally committed to a No-Deforestation Policy in December following years of pressure. Similar recent commitments from Hershey and Kellogg continue to highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach to responsible sourcing of this ubiquitous ingredient.