FGV associate responds to NDPE policy issues

(foresthints.news) - In a delayed written response (Sep 18) to a request from foresthints.news for clarification about its sustainability policy, PT Synergy Oil Nusantara (SON), an associate of Felda Global Ventures (FGV), declared that it had already issued a statement (Jun 23) pertaining to its adoption of an NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation) policy.

The palm oil refinery company added that it was in the midst of obtaining a similar commitment from all its suppliers to ensure compliance with its NDPE pledge.

With regard to this response, Eric Wakker, a top executive at environmental consultancy firm AidEnvironment, said that the NDPE policy issued by PT SON could not be classified as a real NDPE policy.

In fact, Eric (Sep 20) provided a scathing assessment of PT SON’s NDPE policy: “The policy (issued by PT SON) is not a decent NDPE purchasing policy. It can't be taken seriously in this form and format.”

He went on to say that the FGV associate’s NDPE policy was weak in terms of its content, and thus ineffective in cleaning up the company’s supply chains, from deforestation and peat destruction in particular.

PT SON had previously written to foresthints.news (Sep 8), claiming that as an associate of FGV, it is fully committed to FGV’s NDPE policy.

However, in a subsequent written correspondence (Sep 11), PT SON no longer used the term “fully committed” in relation to its position on FGV’s NDPE policy, choosing instead to use the toned-down words “endeavor to be committed”.

Eric decried this response, asserting that it exemplified the weakness of PT SON’s NDPE policy.

The situation as such means that PT SON will continue to source CPO from the highly controversial grower ANJT, one of its main suppliers. ANJT remains linked to the deforestation of Papua’s HCS forests considering that its sustainability policy still leaves open the opportunity for the clearing of secondary forests (HCS forests) in its three concessions in West Papua province.

The following Google Earth images show the clearing of HCS forests undertaken by ANJT in its West Papua concessions.

Weak understanding of supply chains

In its latest response, PT SON said that it has not bought any CPO from Duta Palma, another contentious grower, since September 2015. Eric, however, was unimpressed by this, asking “More importantly - will they publish their supplier list?”

Meanwhile, the FGV associate also declared that it has never procured CPO from the Kalimantan concessions of TH Plantations, one of its shareholders. This was in response to a prior revelation from Eric regarding the development of new forested peatland by this company in North Kalimantan province. 

This response demonstrates that PT SON still has a poor understanding of the usual scope of an NDPE policy which, in turn, has translated into the weak content of its own NDPE policy and an associated inability to clean up its supply chains from controversial sources.

"It is already widely accepted by all refiners with NDPE policies that the scope of these policies applies to all plantation activities by their business partners, regardless of the origin of the CPO and palm kernel sourced,” Eric explained.

With respect to its controversial supplier ANJT - which continues unabated to clear Papua’s HCS forests - PT SON defended itself by explaining that it will only source CPO from the subsidiary of ANJT in Sumatra (ANJA) until December this year. The FGV associate also reaffirmed that ANJA is an RSPO certified mill.

“We are not aware of ANJT. Please note the difference,” PT SON stated abruptly.

Nevertheless, according to Eric, the FGV associate’s attempt to differentiate ANJT from ANJA only requires minimum knowledge to conclude that PT SON’s NDPE policy completely fails to reflect the real substance of an NDPE pledge.