Leading Change for Responsible Palm Oil

At Earth Balance we believe that palm oil can and should be responsibly sourced and sustainably produced. As such,  we’re diligently working to source 100% of our palm oil products from companies whose entire palm oil operations are independently verified as meeting responsible palm oil requirements set forth by the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) – one of the leading organizations dedicated to solving the palm oil issue.

Although we’re considered a small-scale palm oil user (using less than 0.05% of all palm oil), we’re taking a big stand to advocate for responsible palm oil and be a leader for change. We hope you’ll join us!

Our Responsible Palm Oil Commitment

Earth Balance’s responsible palm oil commitment states that we are firmly committed to only sourcing palm oil from companies whose operations have been independently verified as compliant with the measures set forth by the POIG. We are well on our way toward being 100% compliant and will publish our first-ever sustainable palm oil progress report in early 2016.

If you’re not familiar, the issue with palm oil centers around the serious problems irresponsible palm oil production creates, including habitat loss, water pollution, indigenous community dislocation, workers’ rights abuse and forest degradation.

For the past five years, Earth Balance has been actively working to drive change and innovation in responsible palm oil production. The announcement of our responsible palm oil commitment is another exciting step in this journey.

How We’re Taking The Lead
We’re educating our suppliers about ways to safeguard the rainforests, peat lands and human rights through responsible palm oil sourcing, and we are committed to educating our customers and consumers about how they can have a direct positive impact by exclusively purchasing responsibly sourced palm oil products.

Nearly 40% of our palm oil comes from Colombia. Our Colombia-sourced palm oil is 100% organic and is used in all of our organic products. The remaining portion of our palm oil comes from responsible sources in Southeast Asia that are leading positive change in that area of the world through conservation of high carbon stock (HCS) forest, influential social programs and more.

We support the action-oriented, on-the ground conservation work of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) in Indonesian Borneo. Earth Balance is especially proud to be a financial supporter of OFI’s ongoing initiative to return 330 wild-born, ex-captive, rehabilitated orangutans back to the wild, into biologically rich, protected forest, where they rightfully belong.

The Palm Oil Innovation Group has recognized Earth Balance and Boulder Brands as the “First American Food Company to Adopt a Truly Responsible Palm Oil Policy. http://poig.org/first-american-food-company-adopts-truly-responsible-palm-oil-policy

Our Guiding Tenets
We have three guiding tenets for our responsible palm oil commitment:

1. Environmental responsibility and conservation

  •  No Deforestation: Suppliers must not contribute to deforestation of high conservation value (HCV) areas or high carbon stock (HCS) forests.
  •  No Development on Peat Lands: Suppliers must protect peat lands of any depth from development, fires  and drainage, and support strategies to restore peat land ecosystems.
  •  Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Accountability: Suppliers must publicly report on all GHG emissions in conjunction with the parameters set forth in the POIG charter.
  • Pesticide Use Minimization: Suppliers must avoid the use of highly toxic, bio-accumulative and persistent pesticides. Suppliers must be accountable and fully transparent about the use of any pesticide or chemical fertilizers.
  •  No GMOs: Suppliers must prevent the cultivation of GMOs.
  •  Water Accountability: Suppliers must have in place a responsible water management system that minimizes and discloses water use, eliminates pollution, considers catchment level impacts of irrigation and ensures equity with other users.
  • Wildlife Protection and Conservation: Suppliers must conduct biodiversity surveys and ensure the protection and survival of all rare, threatened or endangered species within their concession land.

2. Community partnerships and respect for human rights

  • Respect Human Rights: Suppliers must fully respect the right of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to give or withhold their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) to any palm oil development on their land via their own freely chosen representatives.
  • Food Security: Suppliers must support land use choices that assures food security for indigenous and local communities.
  •  Conflict Resolution: Suppliers must respect the right of indigenous peoples and rural communities to have access to a balanced, accountable, mutually agreed upon and documented conflict resolution system to deal with complaints or grievances.
  • Social Conditions: Suppliers must support social programs to prevent human rights violations, social conflicts or land grabbing, and address key social equity issues including housing, health care, education and empowerment of women.
  • Worker Rights: Suppliers must respect the rights of all workers, including contract, temporary and migrant workers, and workers of all genders, in accordance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) requirements for “decent work” and core conventions on child labor, forced or compulsory labor, freedom of association, and elimination of discrimination.
  • Support Palm Oil Smallholders: Suppliers must support the inclusion of smallholders and ensure all contracts with smallholders are based on a fair, transparent and accountable partnership.

3. Traceable and accountable supply chains and transparent reporting and improvement metrics

  • Transparency and Corruption: Suppliers must publicly commit to prohibit any form of corruption, including during the concession acquisition process and within their operations, and support efforts to establish and comply with anti-corruption legislation where this exists.
  •  Traceability: Suppliers must build fully traceable supply chains to ensure that all sources of palm oil are traceable to the plantation of origin and to their mills.
  • Report on Social, Labor and Environmental Performance: Suppliers must disclose social, labor and environmental performance using the guidance of the Global Reporting Initiative or equivalent approach.
  • Certification and Company Operations: Suppliers must be 100% compliant with measures set forth by the POIG by the end of 2015. This shall cover all palm oil operations, subsidiaries, acquisitions of existing plantation and fresh fruit bunch purchases from third parties, with possible alternatives to full certification for small independent producers.
  • Responsible Supply Chains: Suppliers must independently verify and report on compliance with these requirements and measures set forth by the POIG charter. Boulder Brands will cease to do business with any suppliers in serious violation of its policy, and with suppliers that do not take immediate remedial action to correct those violations.

Additional Resources
Interested in learning more about palm oil and some of the partners we’re working with to create positive change? Here are some resources we recommend you explore:

Have more questions regarding our palm oil commitment? Visit our FAQs for additional information.