At Asda, we’ve been blogging about sustainability in the UK for three years. We’re thrilled to be part of The Green Room and share our posts with you. Earlier in the week, Sam’s Club gave an update on its work with sustainable palm oil. Today, we share our story about why we are so committed to sourcing palm oil sustainably.
Palm oil is used from bakery to pies to margarine to detergents, and much more. Even your lunchtime sandwich will contain it. In fact one of the reasons it’s used so much is that it’s one of the most versatile vegetable oils around. It’s also one of the most efficient oil crops too, which means you get more oil for less land. This is a good thing as less land means less deforestation for new growth.
The problem is that because it’s so useful, demand is high. In the last ten years, global production has doubled. By the year 2000, palm oil was the most produced and traded vegetable oil in the world (FAO).
This can obviously have a huge impact on the areas where it’s grown, as man-made plantations affect the environment, wildlife and surrounding communities. We won’t ban the use of palm oil, but we will work extremely hard to source it sustainably, and persuade other businesses like ours to do the same.
Borneo and Sumatra are home to many palm oil plantations, and endangered species like the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger are losing the habitats where they live. So In 2007, we told our suppliers that we would no longer accept palm oil from Borneo or Sumatra in private label products, and by 2009 we had made it happen.
We’ve made this choice to help protect the habitat of orang-utans, and also to bring the palm oil issue to the attention of other big businesses. We’re proud to have been one of the first businesses to sign up to the Unilever-WWF joint project on sustainable palm oil in 2008.
We know it’s not something we’ll be able to change overnight, but as a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an association created to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil, we’re committed to making positive changes across the business.
This means that by 2015 all our palm oil will come from sustainable sources. As part of Walmart, we’re also leading the global project to support the goal that all their own label products sold anywhere in the world use sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015.
Currently all of the 16,000 tonnes of palm oil and palm kernel oil used in Asda supports the RSPO scheme. Nearly 20% comes directly from segregated sources. The rest is covered by GreenPalm certificates, including our palm kernel oil. GreenPalm is the interim solution to fully segregated sustainable sources.
These are big commitments, but ones we think are very important. This is why, with Walmart, we’re leading the way and taking action on our new sustainable agriculture initiative.
To read more information about Asda’s groundbreaking work being recognised by WWF, visit our Aisle Spy blog in the UK.