Finnish renewable fuels producer Neste issued a statement on 5 November rejecting claims made in a report that its suppliers had been involved in sustainability violations.
The report by Profundo, commissioned by Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) and published on 5 November, claimed that Neste’s raw materials suppliers had been involved in serious sustainability violations, such as deforestation, fires, peat destruction, community and labour right violations.
In its response, the company said credible allegations on sustainability violations by its suppliers were taken seriously and always investigated.
“We acknowledge the fact that there are sustainability concerns linked to the palm oil industry. This is why we continuously monitor our supply chains with locally-operating organisations specialised in various areas of sustainability, such as deforestation,” the statement published on Neste’s website said.
“We transparently publish data on our palm oil and palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) supply chains on our website to enable external experts to help in this work.”
Titled ‘The dark side of Neste’s biofuel production’, the study investigated the unsustainable practices allegedly linked to Neste’s palm oil supply chain.
According to the study, companies in Neste’s supply chain could be connected to at least 10,000ha of deforestation, in the period from January 2019 to June 2020, and around 13,000 fire alerts in 2019.
“Despite Neste’s statements on sustainability and a stated commitment
to responsible sourcing, its supplier list reveals multiple links to
palm oil producers linked to environmentally and socially unsustainable practices,” the report said in its conclusion.
The Profundo report made recommendations that Neste should stop the use of palm oil, PFAD and other vegetable oils for biofuels and disclose the feedstocks used in each individual production plant.
As the company had been unable to familiarise itself with the report at the time of making its statement, Neste said it could not comment on its specific claims.
“Based on our quick review, however, it seems that the report highlights some cases that have already been investigated and closed as the companies were not found to have been involved in the claimed actions,” the statement said.
“The report also introduces some claims concerning our suppliers that are new to us. We will familiarise ourselves with the claims and start investigating those cases further. We will transparently publish information about the cases we are investigating or actively monitoring.”
The company said it was committed to sourcing only sustainably-produced raw materials which always met the market-specific legal requirements.
“All our contracts with renewable raw material suppliers include strict terms on sustainability,” the statement said.
“All our palm oil and PFAD suppliers are additionally required to be RSPO members, which holds them accountable to the RSPO Code of Conduct and enables RSPO complaints panel involvement for monitoring and seeking resolutions.”
Upon learning about credible serious allegations concerning its suppliers, the company said it put all further purchases from those suppliers or supply chains on hold while the cases were being investigated.
“If the sustainability criteria and requirements included in our contracts with our suppliers have been verifiably breached and the nature of these is considered serious and progress to resolve those issues is not made in a reasonable time, we will terminate our contract with the supplier in question – which we have done also in
the past,” the company’s statement said.