Achieving a Sustainable Palm Oil Commitment

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Achieving a Sustainable Palm Oil Commitment

General Mills puts words into action
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 2:30pm

by Jerry Lynch

Brazil’s positive news at the Doha Climate Change conference is worthy of note: Deforestation is slowing down in the country.

As reported in this Wall Street Journal article, the pace of deforestation from August 2011 through July 2012 was the slowest since the Brazilian government began keeping records in 1988. Deforestation slowed to less than 1,800 square miles in the latest 12 months, down 27 percent from the previous year.

This is good news.

Analysts estimate global deforestation accounts for 15 percent of human contribution to global warming. More than 30 million acres of natural habitat are lost each year – habitat critical to the healthy ecosystems we all depend on for our lives and for our businesses.

While it is entirely appropriate to celebrate progress, there is clearly more to be done.

General Mills is working to ensure that neither our ingredients nor the packaging we use in our products are in any way associated with deforestation.

That includes palm oil.

Deforestation has been associated with the expansion of palm production in countries along the equatorial zone where most palm is grown.

Though General Mills is a relatively small user of palm oil, we have publicly expressed concern about the role of palm oil expansion in the deforestation of tropical rainforests and the impact of deforestation on biodiversity and endangered species.

In 2010, we made a commitment to source 100 percent of our palm oil from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015. We also pledged to only buy ingredients from members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and we continue to support the efforts of the RSPO to encourage and certify sustainable palm oil production practices around the world.

Since making our original commitment in 2010, General Mills has made steady progress.

Today, we are purchasing sizable quantities of certified sustainable palm oil, as we continue our transition to sustainable sources. In short, we are putting words into action – and moving closer to our 2015 goal.

It’s an integral aspect of General Mills’ sustainable sourcing strategy. We began by reaching out to key nongovernmental organizations, including World Wildlife Fund and Rainforest Alliance, to complete in-depth assessments of the ingredients we source.

This analysis helped us prioritize our sustainable sourcing work on the key ingredients and materials that have the greatest sustainability challenges, including ingredients such as palm oil.

Our sustainability mission is to protect and conserve the natural resources on which our business depends. It is hard work, but it is necessary work – not only for our business, but also for the world we share.

It’s about making a difference.

So, let’s take just a moment to celebrate the progress on reducing deforestation.

Then it’s back to work.

Jerry Lynch Jerry Lynch is the chief sustainability officer at General Mills, based in Minneapolis, Minn. He leads the company’s global environmental sustainability initiative. He began his career at General Mills in 1995.


Keywords: Ethical Production & Consumption | Business & Trade | Environment & Climate Change | Ethical Production & Consumption | General Mills | Jerry Lynch | Volunteerism & Community Engagement | sourcing | sustainability