Palm oil producer IOI investigated by the RSPO

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) launched an investigation through its complaints investigation panel in 2011 into complaints made against the Malaysian palm oil producer, IOI Group, by various local organizations and NGOs. The investigation related to IOI activities linked to a land dispute in the Malaysian part of Borneo and possible environmental problems in Ketapang in southwest Borneo, which is part of Indonesia.

IOI is one of Neste Oil’s palm oil suppliers. Based on its traceability documentation, Neste Oil was able to confirm at the very start of the investigation that it had not sourced any palm oil from the areas concerned. Neste Oil was not a party to the investigation at any stage and was not involved in debate related to it. The sustainability certificates for all the palm oil procured from IOI were found to be valid and in compliance with the sustainability criteria of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive.

Some commentators concluded from the public debate that the RSPO had declared IOI’s sustainability certificates null and void following the start of the investigation. What the RSPO did do, in fact, was to halt the company’s ongoing certification processes; IOI’s previously certified plantations and pressing plants were unaffected.

According to a press release published by the RSPO in September, the parties involved committed themselves to working together to find solutions to the land dispute. The RSPO also stated that it had not found any evidence of the environmental problems mentioned in the complaint; and IOI promised to improve its operations to ensure full compliance with RSPO requirements.

Neste Oil sees the RSPO’s role in solving disputes of this sort as important. The RSPO complaint investigation procedure is transparent and gives all sides in a dispute an equal chance to put their case. Neste Oil will continue to monitor the IOI case closely and plans to continue working with IOI.