Thursday, 1 October 2009

Marks and Spencer & palm oil

Personal note: The following letter is a
reply received by a supporter from
Marks and Spencer, UK.


Thank you for your email.

You may have heard that in January 2007 we launched “Plan A”, a business wide £200m “eco-plan” which will have an impact on every part of M&S’ operations over five years. As a major feature in our 100-point plan, we have committed to ensuring that all of the key raw materials used in our business, come from the most sustainable source possible, in order to protect the environment and the world’s natural resources.

This commitment will extend to the use of palm oil in our products and as we are a 100% own brand business, this will apply to all of our M&S branded products. We use palm oil as a minor ingredient in a range of our food and cosmetic products. We believe that ensuring the use of sustainable materials in all of our products will help to drive demand for sustainable raw materials in the marketplace, and as a result increase the supply.

We are acutely aware of the environmental and sustainability concerns related to the production of palm oil, while recognising the importance of palm oil to the countries which supply it. As a result we are members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, (RSPO) to ensure we are part of a global force striving for a responsible approach to palm oil production.

M&S is actually a very small user of palm oil (the amount we use amounts to less than 1% of the palm oil imported into the UK). However, we know we can only drive global change and achieve our Plan A goals by working in conjunction with other, bigger users.

As an active member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), we’re encouraging our sources and industry partners to adopt the RSPO standard. During 2009, we expect seven* of our products to receive RSPO certification.

By 2015, we aim to use only 100% fully traceable certified sustainable palm oil – but of course we’ll review this timetable regularly, to take into account global availability of certified sustainable palm oil and its derivatives.

During our move to sustainable palm oil, we’ll make sure that there’s never any compromise on the safety, quality and value of any of our products. We’ll also clearly label all our products containing oil (something we started in December 2007), so the type of oil is identified – palm, rapeseed etc. Blends of oils are labelled as vegetable oils.

Our work on palm oil ties in with our partnership with the WWF which was formed in 2007. In particular, our support of their conservation work in the Heart of Borneo region. This project aims to work with Malaysian, Indonesian and Brunei governments to end deforestation and to create incentives to make forests more valuable standing. The project will rehabilitate 50 ha of forest - the size of 50 football pitches – a vital habitat for Orangutans and other wonderful creatures of Borneo. As part of this initiative, WWF will also be working with forestry and plantation management companies to obtain sustainable certification for their practice.

Please be reassured that we are working closely with the industry to introduce certified sustainable palm oil as soon as possible.

Thank you again and I do hope that my email is of help.

Kind regards,

Karen Hahm-Jones
Customer Adviser
Retail Customer Services