RSPO RT12: Eye on resolutions (update 3a) - at the General Assembly,declaration of mills and ACOP reporting; 5.15pm

Note: Declaration of mills is a biggie! This sets stage for differentiation within certification and alters balances. 

20 November 2014 - at the General Assembly, declaration of mills and ACOP reporting; 5.15pm

Resolution: Declaration of mills.  Proposed by Unilever. To promote transparency, buyer has right to know which palm oil mills (and plantations) and PK crushers RSPO certified product comes from. This would help market transformation. Mass balance would be struggle, Unilever has identified 1800 mills in its supply chain and added information is needed.

Arguments against: This seems to make sense for non-certified product. But within certified sphere, this would create tiers of mills. IP and SG could be used instead (but even in SG trader might not provide information on mills; need this information to build roadmaps to increase origins to targeted). If you know mills beforehand, you can choose from whom to buy and this is not fair to RSPO members (in off-market deals you can ask for declarations of plantations; without transparency, hard to know whom to work with). Agropalma can be IP entirely. By tracing everything how does this affect MB? What is intention going forward with this added information - rather than buying from scattered pool of certified segregated, then will support identified mills and companies in supply base?

Supporting argument: With PalmGHG, let buyer decide which mill to buy from, lower versus higher emissions. Those with lower emissions has better market potential and price than those with higher emissions. An incentive for growers improve. Univanich supports this that mills that have gone beyond RSPO requirements can be recognized when selling Greenpalm certificates.

Outcome: 96 for 84 against. This was a tighter vote. Resolution passed.

Resolution: Change ACOP reporting period to calendar year and improve the ACOP. Proposed by German retailers.  Alignment to calendar year for consistency and reduce work load for most. Improved ACOP can do with more guidance to improve its quality - better explanation and terminology clarification. It is useful to have macro information to understand market progress and tipping point indicators.

Arguments against: Current period is 2-3 months lag on reporting and for Roundtable would end up with older data than what is current and might miss fast developments. Separately, what to do with the non-ACOP reporting members? Tighten to end of April, to accommodate March deadline for certificates.

Outcome: 131 for. Resolution accepted.

20 November 2014 - at the General Assembly, allow wider usage of RSPO trademark by non-SCCS members; 4.25pm

Resolution: Allow members not required to obtain supply chain certification to use trademark on pack. Proposed by a group of retailers. Covers cases where retailer own brand products made by OEM do not get limited by manufacturer permitting their information on pack and/or retailer not to disclose supplier. Asks RSPO to look into easing this usage limitation.

Arguments against: Taskforce is already discussing this, so we do not need this resolution at this time (proposer replies wants to prioritise this, a non-controversial issue, and get wider feedback from members on this). Risk that this might limit the work of the Taskforce (especially if rejected) - it should be left free to look at all possibilities.

Outcome: Request Taskforce look into this, and withdraw resolution.

20 November 2014 - at the General Assembly, seeking non-membership (avoids reporting) for small users; 4.10pm
Resolution: Supermarket retailers are making a case for small users of palm oil not to require RSPO membership while still allowing them to be supply-chain certified. The retailers report that 80% of volume with top 20 suppliers - own brand products by retailers; the rest average 5 tonnes palm oil per annum. They note it takes weeks or months to join RSPO and have to report ACOP and  other problems. September 2014, 606 Supply Chain Associates use less than 500 metric tonnes. If they do not renew it is 3% of RSPO membership income budget. Reduce burden on those with complex supply chains and low volume usage - they find reporting complicated and using many other ingredients.
  • Example 1: A supplier makes 6 x M&S cheesecakes - palm oil use = 13 tonnes/year. Palm oil footprint = 4.77 tonnes/year. Ingredients: cake margarine 0.99 tonnes/year, Arobake 1.82 tonnes/year, Digestive biscuit buttons 1.89 tonnes/year, paprika extract 0.01 t/year, Aeroplus duo 0.06 tonnes/year
  • Example 2: Supplier makes 11 different Ahold products (palm oil use = 89 tonnes / year). Product palm oil footprint 0.8 tonnes/year. Palm oil content 5%, 10.5 grams of palm oil per box. Many ingredients including fractionated PKO in vanilla yoghurt coating, and PKO in peanut coating.
Arguments against: This would lose information from these producers who use less than 500 tonnes. At the other end, grower smallholders have to be members and also go through tedious works and efforts in the P&C. Not fair to run away from the system. Compromises spirit of equality and fairness. 5 tonnes for cheesecake is equivalent to 2 hectares is same as smallholder farmer; his commitment should be matched as small user. Worrying signal on lower transparency. Concern that the high 500 tonnes bar encompasses so many RSPO members.
Outcome: Resolution withdrawn and request Board to look into it. 
19 November 2014 - mill risk zoning, info disclosure, ACOP, non-members, suspension
Start of Day 2. First chat with a downstream specialist. Concern on resolution to include mill and more info in RSPO systems. This would shift from a binary certified vs non-certified status of mills to open up to more nuance of mill and supply base attributes and logically to perceived risk status (traffic light labelling of mills).
Others are also concerned on resolution with info disclosure on both eTrace and Greenpalm to mill and beyond. But at the other end of the supply chain with a resolution for non -members to become chain of custody certified; does this mean they would be part of ACOP (which has a resolution to be strengthened) or not (if not asymmetry of information might grow with a lot more required from the upstream).
Also a resolution to empower the Sec Gen to have power to suspend members on recommendation of the Board. Suspensions on the mind?