Asian Agri Raises Sustainability Profile

In November 2014, Indonesian palm oil production company Asian Agri announced its certification at the ISCC PLUS level for the crude palm oil produced at all its mills. The event distinguishes Asian Agri as the largest producer of crude palm oil operating in Indonesia under such certification. The company had previously obtained ISCC certification for its palm kernel processing operations. The independent testing and verification organization SGS Germany provided the certification.

The ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) program grants verification of a company’s compliance with relevant environmental best practices regarding sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, the ISCC system achieved recognition from the European Commission as one of the first certification programs to comply with the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive of 2009.

The ISCC’s global system can be applied to multiple types of biomass products, and it provides a single framework that simplifies international commerce for a variety of businesses. Furthermore, the ISCC program looks at supply chains in their entirety, examining the process at every point from farm or field to end-user. This makes traceability up and down a supply chain far easier. To date, the ISCC has issued close to 5,000 certificates to forward-looking companies such as Asian Agri.

Through the ISCC PLUS certificate, Asian Agri demonstrates its ongoing commitment to economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The new certification will allow Asian Agri to increase its presence within the global marketplace, and to serve as an example for other palm oil production companies in maintaining environmentally sound operations. For this reason, Asian Agri also stands poised to assume a leading role in advertising the Indonesian palm oil industry as a significant player in the global sustainable economy.

Asian Agri, which works with some 29,000 smallholders families, is one component of the $15 billion RGE Group of corporations under the direction of founder and CEO Sukanto Tanoto of Indonesia. With operations established in 1979, Asian Agri now oversees 160,000 hectares of production land.

Palm Oil Fresh Fruit Bunch
Palm Oil Fresh Fruit Bunch

Asian Agri Refuses to Source Illegal Palm Oil

As a successful entrepreneur owning large corporations, it is important to receive certifications from trustworthy third parties to ensure your credibility in quality and practices. It may not be an easy or fast process but it is a required step to ensure your accountability to the stakeholders. Asian Agri, one of the natural resources production companies under the direction of the RGE Group and its founder, Indonesian businessman Sukanto Tanoto, operates with a production capacity of 1 million tons of palm oil annually. Asian Agri, which is among the world’s largest manufacturers in its market sector, has committed its efforts to sourcing only legally obtained palm oil product. The company has recently placed an emphasis on requiring legal certification regarding the provenance of all freshly harvest fruit product from each third-party supplier and wholly independent farmer with whom it conducts transactions.

As part of its partnership with the local communities with whom it does business, Asian Agri has provided close to 29,000 smallholder families who farm its lands on Sumatra with a wide range of social and economic benefits. Of the company’s 160,000 hectares of total land area, some 60,000 are developed in cooperation with smallholding families who participate in its Plasma/KKPA programs. Mr. Tanoto remains highly engaged with the day-to-day operations of his companies and has charged each of them with maintaining a high level of transparency and responsiveness to their smallholders and to the public.

Legally harvested palm oil

Asian Agri has stepped up its focus on environmental good stewardship through increased attention to the problem of illegal palm oil entering the market. Through stringent attention to documenting that the produce it acquires is completely legal, the company hopes to build increased sustainability into the supply chain. Asian Agri also advocates for the closure of illegal palm oil plantations and for added efforts to protect forest land in the regions where it operates.

Illegal palm oil production and sales in Indonesia have created an economic system that will not be easy to eradicate. Several non-governmental organizations have expressed concern about the fact that some illegal palm oil continues to seep into the products of a number of high-profile manufacturers. Yet Asian Agri and several of its fellow palm oil producers plan to dedicate continued efforts to prevent deforestation, illicit land use, and environmental degradation.