July 2, 2018

RSPO, TFT members still sourcing from peat burner

( - A ground-based investigation by the team (Jun 28) has revealed that peat areas burned in 2012 in the PT SPS-2 palm oil concession have been converted into palm oil plantations. This comes after a ruling by the Indonesian Supreme Court which found that the company itself was responsible for the burning. 

The PT SPS-2 palm oil concession, which has been continually linked with peat violations, lies within the Tripa peat swamps - home to the world’s densest population of orangutans - which form part of the Leuser Ecosystem on the west coast of Aceh. 

Execution of the Supreme Court decision has begun (Jun 25) with the imprisonment of one of the company’s operation managers, which is to be followed by the jailing of two other company executives. 

The controversial company produced palm oil intentionally blended with palm oil derived from 2012’s burned peat areas. Members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Forest Trust (TFT), including Unilever, ADM Global, Mars, Wilmar and GAR, have been found to have bought this tainted palm oil.

Another RSPO member, PepsiCo, has also been filling its tanks with palm oil supplied by PT SPS-2, while Nestle, which was recently suspended from the RSPO but remains a TFT member, has also carried on sourcing palm oil from the company, now convicted of having been behind the 2012 peat fires.

Below are some photos, taken by the team (Jun 28), depicting 2012’s burned peatlands in the PT SPS-2 concession. These peatlands have been turned into palm oil plantations which supply palm oil to the RSPO and TFT members mentioned above. 

The palm oil obtained from the burned peatlands has made its way into the PT SPS-2 mills seen below. The aforementioned RSPO and TFT members have been shown to be continually sourcing palm oil from these mills.

Ongoing palm oil sourcing 

question mark now hangs over the level of commitment these RSPO and TFT members have to implementing their palm oil sourcing policies, considering that they continue to source palm oil from a supplier proven to have burned peatlands inhabited by the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan.

The following photos, documented by the team, portray palm oil plantations developed from peatlands deliberately burned in 2012 by PT SPS-2 as part of its palm oil expansion. The company remains a supplier to numerous RSPO and TFT members. 

If the major brands mentioned above continue to close their eyes to the fact that their supply chains are associated with peat burning, especially in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling and its execution, it would further bring into question their commitment to upholding the law as it relates to peat fires.

Moreover, if they remain quiet and continue to source palm oil from PT SPS-2, this would serve as an incentive for the discredited company to perpetuate the practices of which it has been found guilty. 

Nonetheless, there is still time to see how the RSPO and TFT members react in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict. Their decisions could act as a key lesson learned with respect to their efforts to clean up their supply chains.

As reported earlier by (Jun 7), Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has already moved ahead by implementing law enforcement measures in response to recent peat violations perpetrated in the PT SPS-2 palm oil concession.