Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

An Engaged Public Encourages Responsible Supply Chains

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What’s most interesting here is how companies respond to concerns raised by citizens and consumers. To everyone signing petitions, emailing corporations, and just generally letting their voices be heard: stay informed; stay active.

The discussion of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is also worthy of note for my own work in Brazilian sugarcane ethanol. Cane and Ethanol producers have been urging the establishment of criteria for responsible (I prefer this term to the much more loaded term, “sustainable”) production of biofuels, with a set of criteria specific to sugarcane. They were initially putting their weight behind the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), as it was to be an umbrella organization, with sub-roundtables dedicated to specific feedstocks. This specificity, producers said, is necessary to ensure adequate and realistic standards.

The largest industry association in the Brazilian bioenergy sector, UNICA, has since lost their enthusiasm for the RSB since it has moved away from the specificity they say is required. They now prefer the Better Sugarcane Initiative.

The RSPO is not a member, nor do they make any mention of RSB.

Market based certification organizations can be powerful tools to bring together citizens, companies, and governments to ensure responsible production of all sorts of goods, from biofuels to chocolate bars to sweat pants. Increasing access to information leads to greater transparency, and an engaged public can encourage producers to ensure their supply chains are being responsible.

The other oil spill

Palm oil is a popular, cheap commodity, which green activists are doing their best to turn into a commercial liability. Companies are finding them impossible to ignore

Jun 24th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

EARLY on April 21st 2008, Greenpeace activists dressed as orang-utans stormed Unilever’s headquarters in London. Similar raids took place at the multinational’s facilities on Merseyside, in Rome and in Rotterdam. Furry protesters scaled buildings, occupied production lines and unfurled banners. Many read: “Unilever: Don’t Destroy the Forests”. Dove, one of the company’s best-known brands, was singled out by name.

The tactic was a simple one, intended to draw attention to the damage done to Indonesian tropical rainforests by the production of palm oil, an ingredient in many of Unilever’s products. It was also effective: soon after the orang-utan invasion the company said it would draw all its palm oil from “sustainable” sources by 2015.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

June 27th, 2010 at 8:57 am