Indonesian Producers Criticize Certification Body After Unilever Boycott

Unilever’s boycott of Sinar Mas last week, following the release of a report by Greenpeace accusing the palm oil giant of illegal practices, is putting the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in the spotlight.

“We plan to send a letter to RSPO questioning their credibility in relation to environmental standards,” Joko Supriyono, the general secretary of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), told a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Since Unilever stopped buying crude palm oil from PT Smart based on the Greenpeace report, we are questioning why Unilever prefers to use Greenpeace’s standards rather than RPSO’s. Both PT Smart and Unilever are RSPO members. If Unilever preferred to use other standards, I wonder, is RSPO qualified enough?” Joko said.

RSPO is a multi-stakeholder organization consisting of palm oil producers, buyers and nongovernmental organizations. It issues certificates to producers commensurate with their environmental standards. A number of major buyers require this certification. Achmad Mangga Barani, the director general of plantation at the Agriculture Ministry, said RSPO “should be able to represent both consumers and producers. If it cares only about requirements from buyers, why should we be active in such an organization?”

Last week, Unilever announced it was suspending purchases from the Sinar Mas Group after Greenpeace reported that the group’s companies were not obtaining permits for clearing forested areas. PT Smart, a Sinar Mas unit, provides about 5 percent of all the palm oil that Unilever uses. However, Daud Darsono, president director of PT Smart, said the company had yet to obtain a sustainable palm oil certificate.

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