Walmart’s Transition to RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil

Sustainable Products at Walmart | Our Pledge to Customers

Our customers count on Walmart to deliver affordable products in a way that is sustainable for people and for the planet. To meet those needs, we work with suppliers to improve the sustainability of the products we sell across a wide-array of issues. One issue of great concern is the important role healthy forests play for society, as well as for our business. As a member of the Consumer Goods Forum, we supported the resolution to achieve zero net deforestation in our supply chain by 2020; focusing on four key commodities that, according to the World Economic Forum, are responsible for more than 70% of global deforestation in tropical forests: palm oil, pulp and paper, beef, and soy.

What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. It is an ingredient in a variety of food and consumables products, and is widely used as a cooking oil in many parts of the world. It is an extremely efficient and relatively inexpensive vegetable oil to produce. High demand for palm oil has contributed to deforestation of carbon-rich forests, leading to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of natural habitat of endangered species. To address these issues in the palm oil supply chain, stakeholders created the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to develop global standards for sustainable palm oil production.

Walmart’s Commitment

By 2020, Walmart’s aim is that private brand products with palm oil will be sourced with zero net deforestation in accordance with the principles and criteria of the RSPO, or equivalent, standards.

We ask our global private brand suppliers to:

  • Source and use palm oil in accordance with the principles and criteria of the RSPO (mass balance and segregated supply chain systems), or equivalent standards, in 100% of Walmart private brand products by the end of 2020.
  • Engage with the RSPO standards review process to improve the existing standard to sufficiently cover guarding against the expansion into high carbon stock forests, protecting peat lands, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving quality control.
  • Maintain (and make available upon request) comprehensive records about the volume of crude palm oil and verification of sustainable palm oil used in Walmart private brand products on an annual basis, as well as disclosing the origin (geographic region, country, state/province, plantation, and trader) by 2020.

Walmart’s full Deforestation Policy can be found here: https://corporate.walmart.com/policies.

Action Items for Private Brand Suppliers

  1. Source 100% RSPO mass balance or segregated certified sustainable palm oil in all Walmart private brand food and consumables products by the end of 2020. Establish roadmaps to meet the commitment and decrease the use of RSPO Palmtrace credits.
  2. Incorporate an RSPO mass balance or segregated certification requirement into product specs as items are created and bid, and update preexisting specifications when necessary.
  3. Measure and report your palm oil use for 100% of Walmart private brand products, annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if a product has palm oil in it?

Palm oil and palm oil-based ingredients are listed under many different names, sometimes it’s even just listed as “vegetable oil.” You can find a list of common palm oil based ingredients and derivatives in Appendix A.

How do I purchase RSPO certified sustainable palm oil?

To purchase RSPO segregated or mass balance certified palm oil, you must get supply chain certified with the RSPO. This requires a number of steps which you can learn more about here: https://www.rspo.org/certification.

Do I need to change the source of my palm oil?

If you are purchasing non-certified palm oil, or RSPO Palmtrace credits, and wish to purchase RSPO mass balance or segregated certified sustainable palm oil, you need to consider the following:

  • All new products should include RSPO mass balance or segregated certified sustainable palm oil.
  • For existing products, review internal systems and talk with your buyers. Product asks and specifications may be changed during strategy discussions, contract negotiations, and bid processes.
  • In some markets (e.g. Japan, U.S., and many European countries), there are forums helping companies identify sources of mass balance and segregated certified palm oil. Find out more by contacting the RSPO.

Is there currently enough RSPO certified palm oil available?

There is enough RSPO mass balance and segregated certified palm oil available. In 2017, sales of RSPO mass balance or segregated palm oil were over 4 million metric tons, with around 1.6 million metric tons sold through RSPO Palmtrace credits. However, that doesn’t mean it’s available everywhere for all products. The best way to find out if RSPO certified sustainable palm oil is available is to ask your suppliers or the RSPO.

Does Walmart disclose the amount and type of palm oil in its private label products?

Yes. Every year, Walmart participates in the publicly available RSPO Annual Communications of Progress (ACOP). Through the ACOP, we disclose our total volume of crude palm oil use, as well as the type and total volume of RSPO certified palm oil in our private brand products.

Please see the RSPO website or Walmart’s Environmental, Social & Governance Report for more information on progress.

Why has Walmart chosen to meet its sustainable palm oil commitment through the RSPO?

Walmart views the RSPO as the most effective sustainable certification program in the palm oil industry due to its large, diverse, and global membership (over 4,000 members from all the various sectors across the palm oil supply chain). The RSPO also has deep knowledge and experience, as well as an effective standards development process. As the world learns more about the environmental spots in the palm oil chain, we agree with those who advocate for continuous improvement in the RSPO Principles & Criteria.

While the RSPO is the leading certification for sustainable palm oil, there are others such as Rainforest Alliance Certification and International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC). These certifications are acceptable under Walmart’s commitment, however there are limited volumes available. Contact Rainforest Alliance or ISSC for more information.

Additional Resources

Further information on sustainable palm oil sourcing is available through:

Appendix A

Common Palm-oil Based Ingredients

Palm OilPartially Hydrogenated Palm OilHydrogenated PKO Stearin
RBDPO (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized Palm Oil)Palm Kernel Oil (PKO)Modified Palm Kernel Oil
Palm Mid-FractionPalm Kernel OleinMono and Diglycerides (source oil undeclared)
Palm OleinPalm Kernel Stearin
Palm StearinHydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil

Common Palm-oil Derivatives and Oleochemicals

Alcohol Ether SulfatesFatty Isethionates (SCI)Oleyl Alcohol
Alcohol EthoxylatesGlutamic AcidPalmitate
Alcohol SulfatesGlycerine EstersPalmitic Acid
Alkylpolyglycoside (APG)GlycerolsPalmitoleic Acid
Alpha-linolenic AcidHeptadecyl AlcoholPalmitoleyl Alcohol
Ascorbic AcidIsopropyl MyristatePelargonic Alcohol
Butyl AlcoholIsopropyl PalmitatePentadecyl Alcohol
Capric AcidIsostearyl AlcoholPropylene Glycol
Capric AlcoholLactic AcidPropylene Glycol Esters
Capric-caprylic Acid BlendLauric AcidQuaternary Ammonium Salts
Caproic AcidLauryl AlcoholRicinoleyl Alcohol
Capryl AlcoholLaurylamine OxideSapienic Acid
Capryllic AcidLaureth-7Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Cetyl AlcoholLinoelaidic AcidSodium Laureth Sulfate
Cetyltrimethylammonium ChlorideLinolic AcidSodium Palmitate
Caprylic/Capric Triglycerideα-Linolenic AcidSodium Palm Kernalate
Citric AcidLinoleyl AlcoholSodium Stearate
Cocamide MEAMethyl AlcoholSteareth-2
Cocamide DEAMono and DiglyceridesStearamidopropyldimethylamine
Cocamidopropyl BetaineMonoacylglycerols (MAG)Stearic Acid
Diacylglycerols (DAG)Myristic AcidStearyl Alcohol
Distilled MonoglyceridesMyristic Acid SaltsStructured Triglycerides (TAG)
Elaidic AcidMyristoleic AcidSugar Esters
Elaidyl AlcoholMyristyl AlcoholSulfated or Ethoxylated Alcohols
Elaidolinoleyl AlcoholN-butanolTridecyl Alcohol
EpichlorohydrinOctyl AlcoholUndecyl Alcohol
2-Ethyl HexanolOleic AcidVaccenic Acid