Marks & Spencer: Retail sectors play important roles in escalating sustainable palm oil application

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Rachael Dawes, Sustainable Raw Materials Manager at M&S, expressed pride in the company's dedication to responsible and sustainable sourcing. Photo by: Special

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – Marks & Spencer (M&S) is committed to sourcing palm oil responsibly. The company’s policy mandates that all suppliers adhere to specific terms and conditions, including compliance with regulations, respect for human rights, and guidelines on association and conversion.

Rachael Dawes, Sustainable Raw Materials Manager at M&S, expressed pride in the company’s dedication to responsible and sustainable sourcing. This commitment has been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund and has earned M&S high ratings from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), of which M&S has been a member for 18 years.

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“We do realize the retail sectors play important roles in escalating sustainable palm oil application. Last year we made big progress to escalate material use certified by RSPO in our food products,” Rachael Dawes said, as quoted from the official page of RSPO, Saturday (25/5/2024).

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The company also focused and involved the suppliers to re-formulate and develop their products. “We escalated material use percentage certified by RSPO from 90% to be 98 percent and we would get the best ways to reach 100%,” he said.

Human Rights Manager, M&S, Hannah Radvan said besides the commitment on using sustainable palm oil, the company also invests in palm oil producer areas to confirm that the company has surpassed certification only.

“Since 2012, we have been in partnership with Forever Sabah and civil for our small project in 2017. Until now the project supports RSPO audit and certification which is successful for 342 smallholders in four districts in Sabah and we have got more certified sustainable palm oil,” he said.

Hannah Radvan continued through the program that the smallholders got trainings about good agricultural practices to help them escalate the management and get the better output. The projects are so fantastic to get involve in, and we joined the fourth year – partnership with Forever Sabah, we did hope to realize RSPO certification to get more 1440 smallholders and expand the trainings.

Last year, the company was in partnership with third party to get risk assessment for every raw material used in the company’s business. At the time, M&S was also in cooperation with the team of Forever Sabah to explore how to integrate gender empowerment in the training program. Even though we got lots to do, we did realize, there would be more to be done.

“We anticipate that the terms and condition in European Union would encourage the technology progress in traceability system which enable the company to assess how they could influence and change their own supply chain,” Hannah said.

For the next decade, the company hoped that the industry would more focus on human rights from palm oil supply chain and eventually would get more more responsible and social palm oil supply chain. As one industry, it would be very significant to support inclusivity and smallholders’ security while solving the challenges in human rights significantly.

This included in recruitment process in the plantation, effective access to human resource development mechanism. But the most important thing, there should be interaction with the local community, workers, and smallholders for the next decades, provide them the chance to develop economy.

“It is pleasant to know how far the industry has been developing for the past 2 decades. We do hope to get collaboration with other actors in this industry to reinforce our position in certification and would go farther by getting smallholders’ support to integrate and escalate regenerative production until we can be the sustainable partner in environmental and social perspectives as the main ones,” Rachael Dawes said. (T2)

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