The global palm oil industry – frequently the target of environmental campaigners – is showing promise in some surprising corners of the world.
Corporacion Dinant, itself the focus of NGO ire in the past, plies its trade in some of the most hostile parts of Honduras, a country with the unenviable record of having one of the world’s highest murder rates. And yet, despite the daily challenges of insecurity, widespread poverty and pervasive crime, Dinant recently gave Honduras some news to be proud of with a series of announcements about the palm oil producers’ significant environmental progress.
Since 2014, Dinant’s African Palm plantations in the Aguán and Leán regions of Honduras have significantly cut their impact on the natural environment. Water consumption has been reduced by 73%, industrial wastewater generation is down 40%, and production processes now use 54% less energy.
Company Spokesman Roger Pineda told Focus Washington, “Dinant has invested heavily in recent years to ensure that our African Palm plantations have less impact on the environment, and I’m delighted that we are seeing excellent results. Our oil extraction mills in Honduras have net zero operations with respect to energy, water and waste. Over 95% of the waste produced at our plantations is reused, marketed or recycled. And, in the Aguán, the clean energy generated from biomass and biogas has enabled us to reduce our use of fossil fuels by 25%.”
In fact, Dinant’s high-tech biogas recovery unit at its oil extraction mill in the Aguán in Northern Honduras has reduced the company’s use of fossil fuels by 6 million gallons since 2008.
Furthermore, the company recently retained two prestigious International Sustainability and Carbon Certifications – ISCC EU and ISCC Plus – in recognition of the sustainability of Dinant’s raw materials and products, the traceability of their supply chain, and their control of greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Pineda continued, “Once again, we have been externally inspected by a neutral and credible auditor and judged to be in compliance with tough social and environmental tests. I’m really pleased – ISCC EU and ISCC Plus are two highly coveted certifications for the palm oil industry.”
In addition to the standard ISCC audit, Pineda reported that Dinant underwent an in-depth Social Impact Assessment and a Land Title Legal Review. Apparently, this was done in response to complaints made to the ISCC by two Aguán peasant movements who claimed legal ownership of some Dinant plantations and alleged that they had been involved in social conflicts with the company. The ISCC audits found Dinant to be compliant on both fronts.
So what’s next? Roger Pineda: “Of course, while we are really proud of the progress we’re making, we know there is still more work to be done. For example, we already support the sustainable harvesting of Corozo palm nuts by local Pech, Garífuna and Ladino ethnic communities, helping increase their incomes by 70% over recent years and ensuring viable supplies for the future. But we’re looking at ways to expand this program and provide further support to these communities.”