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Sustainable consumption or boycott? Exploring crossroads of handling palm oil consumerism.

One of the driving factors causing SG transboundary haze is palm oil conversion of peatlands in neighbouring countries. Some of us may think: Why not just boycott palm oil? However, that would be a difficult decision to make. Do you know that palm oil is found in nearly 50% of packaged products in supermarkets? Boycotting palm oil would be detrimental to both the economy and supply chain. Therefore, the only way we can reduce the chances of SG transboundary haze is by striving for sustainable palm oil consumerism practices. So, how do we do that?


We recommend looking out for the ecolabel, CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil) that is issued by RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). RSPO ensures that the palm oil supply chain is sustainable through the monitoring of deforestation, a fair and equitable working environment, as well as wildlife and nature protection. The RSPO P&C (Principle and Criteria) prohibits extensive peatland conversion by restricting planting capacity to less than 100 hectares of land area.


Another certification called ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) is a government-issued certification that mandates all oil palm growers and millers in Indonesia to adhere to its criteria and standards, with the overall objective of improving the sustainability and competitiveness of the Indonesian palm oil industry, attenuating greenhouse gas emissions, and ameliorating living standards in rural communities. However, ISPO should be treated as a complement to RSPO due to its weak sanctions and lapses in transparency and enforcement regulations.


Together with RSPO and ISPO, ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) completes the tri-modular framework for sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia. ISCC is an independent multi-stakeholder initiative that supports deforestation-free and climate-friendly supply chains. One of its requirements is limiting fire in its supply chain. Some examples include the prohibition of burning to clear land, avoidance of waste burning and strict documentation of any on-site waste burning. However, ISCC is lesser seen on palm oil products in the market.


Overall, we recommend looking for RSPO labels, if not at least an ISPO certification when procuring palm oil products. Let us normalise sustainable palm oil consumption now!



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