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 two criteria: their commitment to tracing palm oil and their commitment to ask suppliers about the GHG footprint of their production; companies were scored as follows:
- Full 15 points: A company must commit to trace its palm oil to the plantation level or that the supply chain is traced to the plantation level in conjunction with a supplier whose tracing can be verified.
- 10 points: A company has a vague commitment to traceability.
- Full 5 points: A company answers “yes” to question 2.5 or 5.2 on the 2013-2014 RSPO ACOP OR this information is included in other policies.
(Source: UCS Palm Oil Scorecard Methodology)