Palm oil sustainability group suspends Nestlé

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry watchdog trying to shift companies towards certified sustainable palm oil, has suspended Swiss food group Nestlé after it failed to deliver a report explaining how it would ensure the use of certified sustainable palm oil.

Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) – a body of palm producers, consumer companies, and environmental groups – are supposed to submit a yearly report detailing the measures and actions they have taken in the past year to ensure the use of sustainable palm oil as well as explain how they want to continue their projects in the future.

According to the RSPO, Nestlé has not submitted the report for 2016, and its report for 2017 does not include a time-bound plan. The food group does therefore not qualify for one of the sustainability certificates that the RSPO issues to members.

Nestlé responded to the suspension, saying that it will continue its dialogue with the RSPO. The Swiss corporation wishes to re-qualify for membership and intends to submit reports in the future.

Palm oil is an integral part of multiple supermarket products – from sweets to soaps – and stems from palm oil plantations in South East Asia. Indonesia in particular has come under criticism in past years for illegal deforestation of its unique rainforest, endangering animals like orangutans, tigers and elephants.

Rainforests are often burnt down deliberately, causing excessive forest fires that deteriorate the air in Indonesia and neighbouring countries for weeks and months. In some years haze from the fire blanketed Singapore for lengthy time periods, making life in the Asian metropolis hard to bear.

Image credit: Esteban Alvarez via Flickr

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