The oil palm industry is regulated by several standards, among them those set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification body, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.
However, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) decided to develop a local standard in addition to the international ones.
While the RSPO standard was co-developed by the oil palm fraternity itself, only the world’s major oil palm players were involved; the other two standards were developed for biofuel and renewable energy respectively.
Hence it made sense for the Malaysian palm oil industry to initiate its own national standard, the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification, or MSPO.
Dr Ainie Kuntom, MPOB senior research fellow for product development and advisory services division, said that this standard is yet another important effort by the local industry to ensure that all oil palm enterprise categories (whatever their size) can be certified for sustainability.
In her presentation, she explained that the MSPO standard was produced by all Malaysian palm oil stakeholders, and it complies with Malaysian laws as well as international agreements and conventions covering the sustainable requirements that Malaysia has ratified.
There are different principles for independent smallholders (23 criteria, 35 indicators); plantations and organised small holders (33 criteria and 117 indicators); and mills (26 criteria and 87 indicators).
“All of this was developed though a process that involved public feedback, amendments, submission to (Malaysia’s standards agency) Sirim Bhd, and the standard was endorsed by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry last September, and finally published by Sirim as MS2530: 2013,” Ainie said.
She said that the MSPO does not replace the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil standard, and MSPO certification is voluntary.
“There are 4,000 plantations, 180,000 smallholders and many other downstream activities; it is our hope that the whole industry will voluntarily comply and be proud to implement this national standard,” she said.