Palm oil is a globally traded commodity used in a wide array of common consumer products, from shampoo to cookies. And much of this palm oil is produced in ways that involve the destruction of tropical forests and peatlands, adding to global warming emissions and reducing habitat for many already threatened species.
The good news is that palm oil can be produced without deforestation—and many companies have begun to make public commitments to use deforestation-free palm oil in their products.
The bad news is that too many companies are lagging behind, with weak commitments or none at all. UCS is asking consumers to tell these companies that deforestation is an unacceptable ingredient in their products.
In 2014 UCS released the first edition of our Palm Oil Scorecard. The scorecard evaluated 30 companies that produce major brands across the packaged food, fast food, and personal care product sectors for their commitments to use deforestation-free palm oil.
For 2015 UCS produced a new edition of the scorecard, recalculating each company's score to account for their progress (or lack thereof) during 2014. UCS also added a new sector to the mix, scoring the store brands of 10 retail stores (including supermarket, pharmacy, and discount stores) for the first time.
Companies were scored, for a maximum of 20 points, based on the following criteria:
- Annual Reporting of Progress
Full 10 points: A company must be reporting its progress; including disclosure of the percentage (or volume) of palm oil that meets deforestation-free, peat-free criteria, is CSPO, or is sustainable. This can be satisfied by joining the RSPO and reporting through the ACOP
5 points: A company has made a vague commitment to reporting.
- Time-bound goals to physically source palm oil
Full 5 points: A company has a time-bound plan with intermediate goals to physically source deforestation-free, peat-free palm oil OR a company does not have intermediate goals, but commits to physically source deforestation-free, peat-free palm oil by 2015.
3 points: A company has a time-bound plan WITHOUT intermediate goals to physically source deforestation-free, peat-free palm oil by a date after 2015 OR has a time-bound plan WITH intermediate goals to physically source 100% CSPO or sustainable palm oil OR has a time-bound plan WITHOUT intermediate goals if commits to physically source 100% CSPO or sustainable palm oil by 2015.
1 point: A company has a time-bound plan WITHOUT intermediate goals to physically source 100% CSPO or sustainable palm oil by a date after 2015.
- Layout a process of verification
Full 5 points: A company outlines how it will work with suppliers to ensure it and its suppliers are meeting all principles in its palm oil commitment.
(Source: UCS Palm Oil Scorecard Methodology)