Marks and Spencer Group plc

Marks & Spencer takes the lead on sustainable palm oil

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Source: Marks and Spencer Group plc

Retailer purchases GreenPalm certificates for 100% of palm oil use and announces WWF conservation project in Borneo

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become the world’s first retailer to purchase GreenPalm certificates to cover its entire palm oil usage.

The certificates will cover the palm oil used in almost 1,000 M&S food, beauty and home products each year, with the money spent on certificates supporting manufacturers in the production of certified sustainable palm oil.

The move is a critical first step as part of M&S’ Plan A commitment to only use certified sustainable palm oil in all of its products by 2015, and to send a clear signal of demand to the market.

Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A says: “Sustainable palm oil production is central to our commitment to protect the world’s resources so that we can reduce the impact of CO2 emissions linked to deforestation.

“In order to encourage real change within the palm oil industry, we have to take a joined-up approach. That’s why alongside our commitment to the RSPO, we’ve been working with WWF in the Heart of Borneo to rehabilitate over 120 acres of forest. It forms an important wildlife corridor which will connect two previously split areas of the forest to allow animals, namely orangu-tans, to roam freely.

Paul Willgoss, M&S Head of Food Technology, says: “Over the last two years we’ve been using alternatives to palm oil wherever possible, for example rapeseed oil as a healthier alternative in our coated fish range, which includes fish fingers.

“Where palm oil can’t be replaced as an ingredient, we will only use certified sustainable palm oil. By early 2010 we will have the UK’s widest selection of certified sustainable palm oil products, with a range of nine items including cookies, oatcakes and roast potatoes*.”

Adam Harrison, Senior Policy Officer for Food & Agriculture at WWF-UK, said: “WWF welcomes M&S’ decision to purchase GreenPalm certificates for 100% of its palm oil usage. It is vitally important that all retailers and manufacturers show by their actions that they want to eliminate the negative impacts of our demand for palm oil. By supporting sustainable production in this way M&S have demonstrated just the sort of action that WWF wants to see others take now that certified sustainable palm oil is available for all to buy.”

Sandra Charity, Head of Forest Programmes at WWF-UK, said: “By sourcing sustainable palm oil and supporting grassroots initiatives, corporations like M&S are helping to conserve tropical rainforests such as those in Borneo, home to the last surviving orang-utans, which currently has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Only half of the original forest is left. Thanks to M&S’ support, in addition to the wildlife corridor which has already been created, by 2011 a further 247 acres of damaged rainforest in the Heart of Borneo will be restored. Vital new activities to monitor and protect the local orang-utan population will also be implemented. This represents a significant contribution to helping endangered species in the area survive”.

The GreenPalm ‘Book and Claim’ (B&C) system provides tradable certificates for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified sustainable palm oil to palm oil users. Producers can then offer these certificates on a web-based transaction system to retailers and manufacturers who choose to support the production of certified sustainable palm oil and or their derivatives.

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