Malaysia’s IOI Group issued a sustainability progress update on 30 September following Greenpeace’s blockade of its palm oil refinery in Rotterdam harbour three days earlier, which marked the launch a damning report produced by the environmental group on IOI.
The Greenpeace report, ‘A deadly trade-off’, accused IOI of failing to adhere to its own sustainability policies, or ensuring that its third-party suppliers had stopped clearing rainforests and peatlands.
“In 2015, IOI traded and/or processed 1,527,696 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil-derived products but only 38% of IOI Loders Croklaan’s volumes came from IOI’s own mills in Indonesia and Malaysia,” the Greenpeace report said. “The company states that the majority of the 800 mills in the supply base of IOI Loders Croklaan are indirectly sourced, meaning they are supplied by third parties sourced through other palm oil traders (including Golden Agri-Resources, Musim Mas and Wilmar International).”
Greenpeace said its analysis showed that the IOI Group continued to buy palm oil from third-party suppliers linked to serious environmental destruction and human rights abuses and there remained a systematic failure to identify and exclude non-compliant suppliers.
IOI said that it planned to publish a detailed response to the points raised by Greenpeace shortly. In its update, it said it was making the four planks of its existing policy – zero deforestation, zero planting on peat, zero burning and a focus on socio-economic well-being – more robust and detailed.
“We also require all our suppliers to adhere to our policies.”
It said it planned to achieve full traceability for 100% of its palm oil supplies to its mills by the end of this year.
In an earlier statement on the day of the blockade, IOI said that monitoring third party suppliers and using the threat of commercial sanction could only be done if there “is an industry-wide approach to tackling these complex issues”.
“We therefore today call for all our fellow industry players to come together and reach agreement on solutions that will lead to a truly sustainable supply of one of the world’s most commonly used commodities.”
In the blockade on 27 September, Greenpeace moored its ship to the dock of the IOI Loders Croklaan refinery, preventing the unloading of palm oil from incoming tankers, while activists blocked the path to IOI’s premises with logs.
IOI was suspended by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in April following a complaint made by Aidenvironment against three IOI subsidiaries but the suspension was lifted on 8 August (see News, OFI September/October 2016). It is one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates and has some 152,000ha of oil palm plantations in Malaysia, and 83,000ha in Indonesia.