The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to commit itself to only using palm oil certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The commitment, which was presented last week as a manifesto, simply states that “by the end of 2015 all palm oil destined for the Dutch market has to be sustainable.”
As Europe’s largest trader of palm oil, the Netherlands can make a significant contribution to advancing sustainability in the world palm oil market. According to the manifesto:
Demand for palm oil is rising worldwide, due to growing prosperity in countries like China and India on the one hand, and as a consequence of increased use of palm oil as a raw material for biofuels on the other. This results in an expansion of the oil palm plantation areas in the producing countries. There is concern that, in some cases, tropical rainforest will pay the price for this expansion. Labour relations at the plantations and the use of pesticides are causes for concern as well.
A total of over 46.6 million metric tons of palm oil is produced across the world. Nearly 90 percent of this amount is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Approximately 2 million tons arrive in the Netherlands through its harbours and is either processed in our country or re-exported. Thus, the Netherlands must be considered an important player in the palm oil market.
This move by the Dutch provides a huge boost for the certification standard and raises the bar quite high for other countries in Europe, North America and Asia. It’s going to be interesting to see how companies –and countries –respond in the year ahead.