Cargill and TFT join hands to advance sustainable palm oil

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cargill-logoTaking an important step forward in its commitment to sustainable palm oil, Cargill is becoming a member of The Forest Trust (TFT), the international non-governmental organization that partners with companies to build responsible supply chains.

“We are proud of the work we’ve done with TFT over the last year and very pleased to become a member,” said Cargill’s Vice Chairman Paul Conway. “TFT has been instrumental in helping us get the work done that laid the foundation for the new palm oil policy we launched earlier this year. We are now looking forward to continuing the effort and applying the knowledge we’ve developed in other locations.”

Palm oil plays an important role in feeding a growing world population. It is the highest yielding edible oil crop, using less land per ton produced than any other vegetable oil. Millions of people rely on it to feed their families. “We are convinced their needs can be met, while at the same time conserving biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gases, improving people’s livelihoods and ensuring food security,” Conway said.

In the recent past, Cargill has taken several steps towards building environmentally sustainable, socially responsible practices in its palm oil business. With the help of TFT, the company has mapped the full supply chain of its Malaysian palm oil refineries to the individual mill. Cargill can now offer its customers 1 million tons of traceable palm oil from its own refineries and is continuing its efforts to map third-party suppliers in Indonesia and Malaysia.

At its PT Hindoli plantation in Indonesia, Cargill completed an extensive analysis to identify and preserve high carbon stock (HCS) forest areas, which act as stores for carbon. High conservation value (HCV) areas, which are a haven for biodiversity, were identified previously. They often overlap with HCS areas and also will be protected. Cargill will extend the experience and expertise it has acquired to three of its local business partners, who will conduct their own HCS studies.

“We’ve learned a lot from piloting the HCS tool with TFT,” said Paul Conway. “We’ve fine-tuned the methodology and demonstrated that it is, in fact, capable of identifying valuable tracts of natural forests. Now, we’re ready to apply the model elsewhere.”

Cargill joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004 and signed the Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto earlier this year. A new, more progressive palm oil policy was adopted in April.

“We are excited to take this important next step with Cargill related to ensuring that all the palm oil they produce, buy, sell and trade globally conforms to their Policy on Sustainable Palm Oil,” said TFT Director Robin Barr. “It’s clear from our work together thus far that Cargill takes the implementation of its policy very seriously, and this will send a strong message to its suppliers that practices related to deforestation and exploitation must be eliminated from the palm oil industry.”

Cargill’s commitments

Under its updated palm oil policy, Cargill pledges to build traceable and transparent palm oil supply chains for everything it produces, buys, sells and trades, including the following:

  • Protection of high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) areas
  • No development on peat, regardless of depth
  • No exploitation of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities

To achieve these goals, Cargill will work with all stakeholders, including suppliers, customers, governments, and non-governmental organizations. The company supports, and will help further develop, a scientifically, socially, politically and economically acceptable approach to identifying and protecting natural forests.

Cargill prohibits abusive labor practices, including forced and child labor. The company is committed to the protection of human rights and non-discrimination practices for all workers, including contract, temporary and migrant workers.

Cargill respects the rights of indigenous and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for the use of lands to which they hold legal, communal or customary rights. The company supports the inclusion of smallholders into sustainable palm supply chains.

Cargill will publish four palm oil-related progress reports annually. In the next few weeks, the company will announce a detailed, time-bound plan on how to achieve the goals outlined above.