Thijs Pasmans is working on sustainable sourcing in oils and fats at MVO - The Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry and the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA). MVO represents the oils and fats industry in the Netherlands and EPOA is an initiative to engage with and educate stakeholders on the palm oil story. At MVO and EPOA we aim to build more support for sustainable palm oil. Thijs has a background in biology and rural development at Wageningen University. To get a better understanding on sustainable palm oil on the ground, he did a learning project on palm oil smallholders and their livelihoods in Indonesia.
Say YES to sustainable palm oil
In emulsifiers and various other food products, palm oil is a valuable ingredient. At the same time palm oil is debated in terms of its environmental and social impact. The European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) believes that its better to improve sustainable practices in palm oil production than to look away and boycott palm oil.
The advantage of being sustainable
The increasing demand for palm oil can lead to issues around deforestation and environmental degradation when the production is not sustainably managed. Moving away from palm oil may sound like a logical solution, but will create other negative impacts and does not address the issues concerned. The solution is not to move out, but to take responsibility and ‘Say YES to sustainable palm oil’. That means palm oil has to be produced with respect for human rights, protection of forest and wildlife, use best practices to increase yield per hectare and innovate to decrease pest- and herbicide use.
Towards 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020
EPOA strongly supports the uptake of 100% sustainable palm oil and contributes to the efforts of the European Sustainable Palm Oil (ESPO) project to support a fully sustainable palm oil supply chains in Europe by 2020. The European palm oil supply chain is making good progress towards its commitment. A new ESPO monitoring report presented at the European Palm Oil Conference (EPOC) in Brussels last November showed that:
- 69% of the palm oil imported for food into European refineries was certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) in 2016.
- 60% of the palm oil used for food in Europe was CSPO in 2016.
These figures show that there is still a gap between the imported volume of CSPO and the actual uptake of CSPO by the food industry. Our next step is to increase the uptake of imported sustainable palm oil into Europe. All stakeholders in the supply chain need to work together and commit to increase the use of sustainable palm oil.
What you can do
Supporting sustainable palm oil is possible for every company in the palm oil supply chain. The different chain of custody models offer gradual solutions towards 100% sustainable palm oil. Companies are stimulated to work towards physical, mass balance or segregated supply chains to create a fully sustainable process. European stakeholders can also develop a link with their main sourcing regions, for instance via targeted landscape projects aimed at improving yields and sustainable practices in producing countries.
To meet our common objective towards 100% sustainable palm oil by 2020 in Europe and then the rest of the world, we have to unite and work together: both industry, governments and NGOs. Let’s make sustainable palm oil the norm in 2020.
 Including relatively small volumes for feed and oleochemical industry