Wilmar acts over 'unethical' palm oil suppliers

Singapore's Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil processor, yesterday said it has ceased sourcing from suppliers that are allegedly associated with a company that was accused by Greenpeace of causing deforestation.

Greenpeace had accused Gama, a palm oil business set up by Wilmar's co-founder Martua Sitorus and his brother, of causing deforestation in Indonesia.

The environmental group said analysis of trade data showed that Wilmar traded palm oil from Gama, despite being aware that Gama was violating Wilmar's No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy by clearing rainforest.

"Wilmar must immediately cut off all palm oil suppliers that can't prove they aren't destroying rainforests," said Mr Kiki Taufik, global head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Indonesian forests campaign.

Wilmar has as of June 20 ceased sourcing from all suppliers that are allegedly associated with Gama as identified by Greenpeace, it said in a statement.

It said it would not buy from any company that cannot prove to its satisfaction that they do not belong to Gama because of the alleged identified non-compliance with Wilmar's NDPE policy.

It added that it has no control or management over Gama. Wilmar executives with familial ties to Gama do not hold any decision-making power or influence on Wilmar's sustainability policy.

Wilmar promised in 2013 to seek to end purchases of palm oil grown on deforested land.

In 2015, it opened its supply chains to outside scrutiny in a move that was lauded by environmentalists.

Calls to Gama offices in Jakarta went unanswered after business hours.

Concerns about the amount of forests and peat lands cleared for plantations, and the greenhouse gases that are then emitted into the atmosphere, have plagued the palm oil industry for years.

Palm oil is used in various products, including margarine, soap and biodiesel.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline Wilmar acts over 'unethical' palm oil suppliers. Subscribe