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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Cargill Releases First Palm Oil Progress Report


Cargill Tropical Palm released its first progress report on sustainable palm oil this week. The report, released on Monday, details the company’s plan to achieve a sustainable supply chain.

Part of that plan is its pledge to deforestation-free palm oil, a commitment the company first announced in July. It repeated that pledge at the United Nations Climate Summit in September in New York City. Specifically, Cargill pledged not to develop palm oil on peatland, not to exploit the rights of indigenous people and local communities, and to include smallholders.

At the U.N. Climate Summit, Cargill signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. Signers of the pledge committed to sustainable practices concerning palm oil. Cargill recently announced that it is on track to trace 80 percent of its palm oil in key markets back to the mills it came from, and that figure will reach 100 percent by December of next year, according to company estimates.

"Sustainability has long been part of our palm plantation culture, and it has resulted in a business that our employees are very proud of," Cargill CEO John Hartmann said in a statement. "We must account for impacts on the environment and local communities for the sake of future generations. That notion is shared by our smallholders. They, too, have achieved multiple global sustainability certifications, and today they are the pride and joy of their communities."

The report also details what the company has already achieved in its quest to create a sustainable palm oil supply chain. In 2009, Cargill’s Hindoli Plantation was certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) -- making it one of the first plantations to gain RSPO certification. The company’s goal is to achieve certification for 100 percent of its plantation and smallholder land. In addition to RSPO certification, Cargill seeks to attain certification under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) scheme.

In July 2013, Cargill began working with Solidaridad and Wild Asia, two non-governmental organizations, to help independent mills and smallholders achieve RSPO certification in Malaysia. The goal is to help a pilot group of 34 farmers with 133 hectares of palm oil achieve certification -- and then increase the program to include 100 more farmers by the end of 2015.

High carbon stock study

Cargill contracted the Forest Trust (TFT) in December 2013 to conduct an assessment of high carbon stock in 4,320 hectares of palm oil development area owned by  PT Sumber Terang Agrolestari (PT STAL) in Indonesia. From December 2013 and July 2014, TFT conducted the study using desk analysis of satellite imagery and three field visits.

After conducting the study, TFT recommended that high carbon stock areas be integrated with peatlands, high conservation value areas and areas of importance to local communities into a conservation and land use plan for PT STAL. TFT recommended that Cargill continue to complete high carbon stock assessments and engage local communities in future high carbon stock assessment processes.

Image credit: CIFOR

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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