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Industries Make Sustainable Palm Oil Pledge

The UK government and 14 other industry groups and organizations, including the British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, and Seed Crushers and Oil Processors Association, have pledged to source 100 percent sustainable palm oil used in everyday food and products by 2015.

The pledge coincides with the World Resources Institute’s launch of two online mapping applications to avoid deforestation and help industry and government find sites for sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia, the world’s leading palm oil producer. The UK government pledge and WRI’s app launch were announced during the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s annual conference, which ends Wednesday in Singapore.

The UK’s environment ministry committed to using only sustainable palm oil in its central government food and catering services by 2015. The government will also set up an advice and information service to help UK businesses and government procurers work towards 100 percent sustainable palm oil. This will include a helpline, online information, newsletters and seminars.

The UK imported 397,00 metric tons of palm oil and 53,000 mt of palm kernel oil in 2011, according to Eurostat data.

WRI developed the web tools in consultation with the RSPO and in partnership with Sekala, Rainforest Alliance, SarVision, University of Maryland, South Dakota State University and Puter Foundation. The applications were designed with Blue Raster and are powered by ESRI.

The Suitability Mapper uses a standard, easily replicable method to help companies and government planners find potential sites for sustainable palm oil production and plan field assessments for further investigation, WRI says.

The Forest Cover Analyzer application uses a set of monitoring tools to help buyers, investors and governments strengthen incentives for avoiding deforestation when developing new palm oil plantations. The app allows users to view changes in forest cover over time in areas of their choice, using up-to-date satellite data.

Both applications cover Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo (see photo), and will expand to other areas in the coming months, WRI said.

A delegation from the EPA was scheduled to visit Indonesia this week to discuss palm oil emissions. The EPA said palm oil converted into biofuels in Indonesia and Malaysia cut up to 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, falling short of the 20 percent required for entry to the US market. The Indonesian government and palm industry figures have lobbied the US government on the issue.

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