The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has lifted its suspension of Malaysia’s IOI Group, effective yesterday (8 August).

IOI was suspended by the RSPO’s Complaints Panel (CP) on 1 April following a complaint made by Aidenvironment against PT Sukses Karya Sawit, PT Berkat Nabati Sawit and PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera – all IOI subsidiaries – alleging that they had failed to protect forests and peat areas.

In a statement on 5 August, the RSPO said it was satisfied that IOI had met the conditions it had set following the complaint.

This includes excluding areas opened up to 1 April 2011 in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia from future RSPO certification; and certifying most of the land which are non-compliant with RSPO’s standards in the future.

“The RSPO welcomes the good progress achieved so far towards the resolution of this case,” it said.

However, the RSPO said IOI’s action plan would be subject to independent ground verification by a team of experts, which would be appointed by the RSPO Secretariat within 30 days.

“The findings of the independent ground verification team shall be scrutinised by the RSPO CP, which will advise the Board of Governors to re-impose the suspension if the verification team find significant failures in the implementation of IOI’s commitments to the RSPO.”

IOI was expected to submit its quarterly progress report and at the end of a 12-month period, an independent ground verification team would again conduct a review.

“The panel shall then determine whether the implementation of the action plan is satisfactory and set any other conditions for the continued progress of the resolution of the complaint,” the RSPO said.

IOI’s suspension led to major multinationals, including Unilever, Kellogg’s and Mars, to drop the group from their lists of approved palm oil suppliers.

According to BusinessGreen, Unilever would now consider whether to re-start its commercial relationship with the company.

“Unilever is looking into the decision taken by the RSPO and, based on this assessment, will decide on the right approach and next steps. We will be able to communicate further on this matter in the next few days,” the firm said in an emailed statement to BusinessGreen.

IOI is one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates, with operations in plantations, oleochemicals, speciality fats and real estate.

The group has about 152,000ha of oil palm plantations in Malaysia and 83,000ha in Indonesia.