Indonesia — Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever has resumed palm oil purchases from Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART) after the planter adopted new green policies, the Indonesian palm oil firm said late on Monday.
SMART, which runs the Indonesia palm oil operations of its Singapore-listed parent Golden Agri-Resources, was given a mixed score card last year in an independent environmental audit after Greenpeace accused the firm of clearing peat land and forests that sheltered endangered species.
Major palm oil consumers such as Unilever, Nestle and Burger King stopped buying from SMART because of environmental concerns.
The palm oil firm said in February that it would work with the government and a non-profit body, and Golden Agri then developed a Forest Conservation Policy in collaboration with The Forest Trust (TFT), a non-profit organization that seeks to promote green business methods.
SMART has received a purchase order from Unilever today, a decision which SMART views as an acknowledgement of its sustainability commitments including Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, the firm said in a statement.
The RSPO is an industry body of consumers, green groups and plantation firms that aims to promote use of sustainable palm oil products.
This month, Nestle, the worlds biggest food group, also resumed palm oil purchases from SMART.
The palm oil industry has come under increasing pressure to improve practices and halt deforestation blamed for speeding up climate change, ruining watersheds and destroying wildlife.
A moratorium on new permits to clear forests in Indonesia, the worlds top palm oil producer, came into force in May for an initial two years.
Late last month however, the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) withdrew its membership from the RSPO, instead giving its full backing to an Indonesian sustainability scheme.
Many major European palm oil buyers say the RSPO will remain the international sustainability marker.
SMART President Director Daud Dharsono also said the firm was supportive of the RSPO and would also continue to work with Gapki.