Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil for use in products such as margarine, ice cream, soap and shampoo. It purchases around 1.5 million metric tons of palm oil and its derivatives annually, which represents about 3 percent of the world’s total production, the company says.
In 2004, Unilever worked with the World Wildlife Fund and other organizations to establish the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In addition to being a founding member, the company has “matched its commitment with action,” buying RSPO certified palm oil, says Richard Holland, director of WWF’s Market Transformation initiative.
In 2008, Unilever committed that all palm oil it uses will be sustainable by 2015. The company achieved this goal three years early and as of 2012, Unilever sources 100 percent of palm oil from sustainable sources, certified by GreenPalm.
The company has also pledged that all palm oil it buys will be traceable and certified by 2020.
With 36 percent now sourced sustainably, Unilever has exceeded the interim milestone of 30 percent it set itself in 2010 when launching its Sustainable Living Plan, which sets a goal for the company to halve its environmental footprint while doubling its size. The company reported annual sales of €51 billion ($65.6 billion) in 2012.