TFT has developed a unique model that uses market leverage to take action against deforestation
Retailers around the world have joined TFT to develop solutions to eliminate illegal timber from their supply chains and incentivise sustainable forest management on the ground. The buying power of retailer companies has been nudging the entire timber industry towards sourcing FSC certified timber and has allowed responsible forest managers to find markets for their timber.
For the past 10 years, while focused on tropical forests and wood products, TFT has sharpened our specialised problem-solving skills, business sensibility and first-hand understanding of supply chains.
TFT’s experience with supply chains gained in the timber sector to be applied to palm oil
Now TFT is applying this leadership, experience and knowledge to minimise the forest footprint of products in non-wood business sectors, such as agriculture and ranching.
TFT’s expansion into the non-wood sector is the result of our previous experience in the timber sector as we drive consumer awareness and demand for responsible products. Specifically, TFT members have requested supply chain support for palm oil in order to market forest responsible products.
Harnessing purchasing power to increase the demand for and use of Responsible palm oil
Palm oil is a major driver of deforestation, particularly in South-east Asia, one of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Due to its low price and versatile nature, palm oil is found in at least 10 per cent of supermarket products marketed globally, including biscuits, frying oil, sauces, chips, chocolate, soaps, shampoo, cosmetics, detergents, livestock feed and many more. One initial solution is to substitute palm oil with other vegetable oils to reduce the expansion pressure. However it is also a significant source of revenue for palm oil producer countries, and some palm oil cannot be substituted by other vegetable oils due to its unique properties; in these situations, TFT will recommend the use of Sustainable palm oil.
TFT in Europe has been asked by retailers to help them to define a responsible palm oil purchasing policy. TFT has now started working with a major European retailer to encourage them to source palm oil in a responsible way. This means buying palm oil that originates from companies that are certified under the RSPO scheme and fully compliant with all RSPO requirements which includes being fully transparent, limiting their environmental impact (i.e do not deforest to plant), and respecting land rights and free prior and informed consent of local communities. TFT is aware of criticisms of the RPSO scheme, and so TFT is working to set up a group of food manufacturers with the aim of establishing monitoring and traceability systems to ensure plantations are complying with strict RSPO requirements, and providing technical assistance to growers, particularly smallholders achieving RSPO certification.
Specifically on community management, TFT has a strong knowledge and successful practice of supporting smallholder groups to reach FSC certification and will apply the same social and training skills with palm oil growers seeking RSPO certification.
Although this may seem like a tall order at the moment, ten years ago, the same was said when TFT set out to transform the outdoor furniture market.