Palm oil trees are an amazing natural resource. High-yielding and land-efficient, the crop can bring great wealth to some of the world’s poorest regions — when it’s done right. Unfortunately, the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations is threatening environmentally sensitive areas of tropical rainforest and carbon-rich peat lands. In some cases, the rights of communities that depend on those forests and lands for their livelihoods have been threatened. Labor violations have been found on some palm oil plantations.
Like many food manufacturers, we use small amounts of palm oil in many of our products. But we want to do it the right way. We are committed to protecting forests and biodiversity, minimizing the carbon footprint of our supply chain, and respecting the rights of affected communities and workers in all of our palm oil sourcing.
We launched our policy in March 2014 to formalize our commitment to developing a fully sustainable and traceable palm oil supply chain — one that is free from deforestation and environmental degradation and grown with respect for the rights of local communities and workers. To this end, we announced a new palm oil sourcing plan that our suppliers are required to have met by the end of 2015.
In addition, we committed to tracing all the palm oil we source back to known mills, and to ensuring that by the end of 2014 our tier-1 palm oil suppliers had agreed to comply with our sourcing charter.
Mars is proud to be a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). We have purchased 100 percent of our palm oil from RSPO-certified sources via the group’s “mass balance” program since year-end 2013. Mass balance requires processors to purchase palm oil from certified sources, but allows them to mix it with conventional palm oil during transportation, processing and packaging. This reduces the cost and complexity of handling separate supply chains and fosters greater uptake of certification. Mars’ sites are audited to confirm that the palm oil we receive comes from mass balance sources.
Our Palm Oil Plan
We believe in a sustainable future. To do our part, we are committed to developing a fully sustainable and traceable palm oil supply chain.
We will continue to source 100 percent RSPO mass-balance certified palm oil, but we want to go the extra mile to be sure this palm oil is genuinely sustainable:
- Our ambition is to go beyond the RSPO criteria to only source palm oil from companies whose operations meet the following sourcing charter, within the time frame described below:
- Only from legal sources.
- No development in areas of high conservation value.*
- No development in high carbon stock forest areas.*
- No development on peat lands regardless of depth.
- No burning to clear land for new developments or to re-plant existing developments.
- Compliance with the Mars, Incorporated Supplier Code of Conduct. This sets our expectations in the areas of child labor, forced labor, discrimination, compensation and benefits, working hours, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, health and safety, the environment and ethical business practices.
- Respect the right of all affected communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent for plantation developments on land they own legally, communally or by custom.
- Support farmers and plantation owners to comply with this policy.
- We developed a fully traceable pipeline back to known mills in 2014 and will continue to work with the Forest Trust (TFT) to ensure these mills can verify that their fresh-fruit bunch supply, including supply from smallholders, meets our sourcing charter. All suppliers were required to comply with our charter or to have plans in place by year-end 2015 to ensure compliance.
- We will only work with palm oil suppliers that share our values and our commitment to transforming the palm oil supply chain, and required that they confirm their commitment to comply with the above sourcing charter by the end of 2014.
In 2016, through our partnership with TFT, we will continue to increase traceability and transparency in our supply chain. We will maintain supplier engagement, and expand this work by encouraging our direct suppliers to push for transformation among the mills and producers supplying them. Finally, we will work toward independent verification that our efforts and those of our suppliers are leading to genuine transformation on the ground.
We believe these steps will help ensure a genuinely sustainable supply chain where all material is sourced from companies whose mills only produce sustainable palm oil. In addition, we believe that this will help accelerate change by encouraging our suppliers to source all their palm oil from companies whose plantations and farms are responsibly run.
Mars will partner with industry, governments and civil society on broader efforts to protect forests and ensure mutual benefits for the workers and communities that rely on them for their livelihoods. In particular, we will work with the World Economic Forum, the Tropical Forest Alliance and the Consumer Goods Forum to speed progress on preventing deforestation.
This Palm Oil Policy applies to 100 percent of palm oil, palm kernel oil and their fractions directly sourced by Mars.