How we grade companies

(Image credit: FreeImages.com/Dominik Gwarek)

For each company in our database, we grade it on its public commitment to using palm oil that is more sustainably produced. Arguably no grading scheme is a guarantee that all the palm oil used by a given company is fully sustainable. However, it is not always practical to avoid all products containing palm oil, and so we believe this score is valuable to help you make better consumer choices.

Our grading scheme is based on that used by the Union of Concernced Scientists (UCS)[1] in their 2015 Palm Oil Scorecard , converted to a letter grade (A through F). The grades are based on public statements of commitment to sustainable palm oil usage. The grade reflects only public commitment to sustainability, and not whether a company is keeping to its commitments. Verification is a massive undertaking that requires the involvement of many different stakeholders, and is far beyond the scope of this project.

The grade is based on whether the company:

  • reports the volume of certified sustainable palm oil used.
  • has publicly committed to sourcing palm oil that protects all forests, going beyond RSPO certification.
  • has publicly committed to sourcing palm oil that protects all peatlands.
  • has a policy to trace palm oil production to the plantation.
  • requires suppliers to report greenhouse gas emissions.
  • has specific, time-bound goals to use sustainable palm oil.

The process of grading companies is ongoing, since it involves considerable time investment, and our database is large. Some fraction of companies do not, at this time, have viable grades.

Methodology

For each company in our database, we checked public statements regarding palm oil policy, including policies posted on corporate websites, and ongoing progress reports submitted to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Based on these policies, we assigned a numerical grade following the rubric defined by the UCS. The numerical grade was converted into a letter grade for display purposes (see side panel).

To verify the accuracy of our grading scheme, we independently applied it to those companies already listed in the 2015 Palm Oil Scorecard. In general, we found good agreement between our grades and those of the UCS.

Results

A detailed breakdown of our results for each company can be found by browsing the Detailed Grade Breakdown.
[1] Our research was carried out independently. We are not affiliated with, and nor is the app endorsed by, the Union of Concerned Scientists.
What do the grades mean?

Sustainable

A (76-100)
Committed to using traceable, deforestation free palm oil. Reports progress, RSPO member, and currently uses mostly sustainable palm oil.
B (61-75)
Committed to using traceable, deforestation free palm oil in the future. Reporting progress, but current progress is incomplete.

Partially Sustainable

C (45-60)
Committed to using 100% traceable, RSPO certified, but not deforestation free, palm oil. RSPO member, reporting progress.
D (28-44)
Committed to 100% RSPO certified palm oil in the future, but current usage is mostly unsustainable. RSPO member, reporting progress.

Not Sustainable

E (16-27)
Committed to using 100% RSPO certified palm oil in the future, but not reporting current usage. Not an RSPO member.
F (0-15)
No commitment, or a vague commitment to using RSPO certified palm oil.

Find out more

Detailed Grade Breakdown.