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 evaluated based on their commitment to source palm oil that does not contribute to deforestation for a maximum of 20 points awarded as follows:
Full 20 points: A company needs to commit to protecting all forests and include language referring to secondary, disturbed, or high carbon stock forests.
10 points: A company has a vague commitment to forest protection OR commits to protection of HCV or primary forests OR commits to physically sourcing 100% CSPO or sustainable palm oil.
(Source: UCS Palm Oil Scorecard Methodology)