Why RSPO Certification

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative on sustainable palm oil. Members and participants in its activities come from many different backgrounds and include environmental NGOs, banks and investors, growers, processors, manufacturers and retailers of palm oil products and social NGOs. They come from many countries that produce or use palm oil. The principal objective of the RSPO is “to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue between its stakeholders.

The RSPO Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production (Including Indicators and Guidance (revised Nov 2013) are the global guidelines for producing palm oil sustainably. They have been described as the world's toughest standards for sustainable agriculture production and have been variously adapted for other crops. No public claims relating to sustainable palm oil production, to the RSPO P & C, can be made without RSPO approved third party inspection.  

The palm oil supply chain, from the tropics to its use as an ingredient in retail productts all over the world, is is complex. To preserve the integrity of RSPO palm oil, players along the supply chain wishing to use it have to do so transparently to allow traceability. The transparency and traceability is assured through RSPO Supply Chain Certification

What is RSPO Certification?

There is in an ever-urgent need and growing global concern that products (agricultural as well as non-agricultural) are produced without undue harm to the environment or society. Obviously, the concerned consumer cannot verify himself whether any product on the supermarket shelf is responsibly produced. In gist, RSPO Certification is a seal of approval that the palm oil used in the product is indeed so produced and volumes are traceable. Producers are certified through strict verification of the production process, to the stringent RSPO P&C, by accredited certifying agencies and may be withdrawn at any time on infringement of the rules and standards. The certified sustainable palm oil (RSPO Oil) is traceable through the supply chain by certification of each facility along the supply chain that processes or uses the certified oil.

What is so unique about RSPO Certification?

By and large, any one or anybody can certify anything, there being little legal restrictions on that, and, indeed, there are already a plethora of certificates and standards being awarded these days. The crux of the matter is the credibility and usefulness of the certification – basically, who will believe or use it. RSPO’s current members comprise organisations, companies and individuals whose reputation decides their standing as global citizens. They produce about 40% of the world’s palm oil and are processors or users of more than 30%. Key social and environmental NGOs lend their sighting to the processes for greater transparency and credibility. As all the members are bound to accept RSPO certification on each other, the value of the status is quite universal.

Elements of RSPO certification scheme

  Standard. This sets out the requirements which must be met and against which certification assessments are made. The RSPO Standard is the RSPO Principles and Criteria For Sustainable Palm Oil Production or P&C (see above for a downloadable copy).
  Accreditation. This is to ensure that the organisations which undertake certification assessment – the Certification Bodies - are competent to undertake credible, consistent audits.
  Process requirements. This is the process for establishing whether or not a set of requirements (i.e. the standard) has been met and is carried out by a accredited Certification Body. The RSPO systems are detailed in the RSPO Certification Systems and RSPO Supply Chain Certification Systems documents.

How can a company certify its production as "sustainable" by RSPO standards?

By engaging independent RSPO approved Certification Bodies to audit their production. The list of current RSPO approved Certification bodies is available at Certification Bodies page. The audit report will in turn be reviewed by expert independent reviewers engaged by RSPO before RSPO certification is granted.

How can a company certify its facilities as providing sufficient traceability for RSPO certified sustainable palm oil?

By engaging independent RSPO approved Certification Bodies to audit their production.

Who pays for the cost of certification?

The mill or facility or company requesting the certification.

How much would certification cost?

The cost would have to be agreed between the company and the certification body.

What are the benefits of being RSPO certified?

There are no guaranteed benefits to be had apart from the satisfaction of a job well done and that of being a responsible world citizen. But there are environmentally and socially responsible buyers willing to pay a premium for responsibly produced products. Some of them have even foresworn dealing in non-certified products and only sourcing through traceable supply chains. In short, any benefit would be for the mill or facility to accrue itself – as a responsible palm oil producer or supplier verified by RSPO.