Personal care industry answers call to support sustainable palm oil

GreenPalm calls on personal care and cosmetic industry to take a stance

Back in April GreenPalm called on the personal care and cosmetic industry to take a stance and join the likes of Avon, Oriflame and Johnson & Johnson in pledging their support for the production of sustainable palm oil.

Bar of Soap

The level of information and knowledge amongst the major industry players regarding the RSPO supply chain options was enough for them to make a commitment, yet the industry seemed to be slow at stepping forward despite the media attention towards the environmental issue’s caused by palm oil production.

At the very same time Defra & Pro Forest published their UK palm oil report which highlighted some interesting industry figures......

UK palm usage, personal care sector

Hear in the UK the personal care industry accounts for an estimated 5% of the 643,400mt (including 595,300 mt of palm and 48,100 mt of palm kernel) of palm oil imported into the UK in 09/10. However it’s important to note that these figures do not include an estimated 190,000 – 350,000 mt of palm oil imported every year as finished product.

Whilst the 5% represents a small percentage of the total, 48% of the UK’s palm consumption goes into the retail sector.

Data source – Mapping and understanding the UK palm oil use – DEFRA report April 2011 download the full report

As you would expect the retail sector is where the spotlight from the media and green group campaigns have fallen, therefore it makes sense for the major personal care and cosmetic brands to show their support as part of an integrated CSR strategy and in turn protecting their brands image. Private label suppliers must also be aware of the retailer’s individual palm oil strategy and target dates with specific attention to NPD projects, most are instructing suppliers that all palm ingredients contained in their products are covered by one or more of the RSPO supply chain options.

The call is being answered

The good news is the call is being answered, GreenPalm has seen a significant increase in membership applications and certificate trading from the sector. Joining the likes of Avon, Oriflame and Johnson & Johnson amongst others, in the last month GreenPalm has welcomed an industry first with wet wipe manufacturer Nice-Pak, Beiersdorf – owner of the Nivea brand, French speciality actives and functional ingredients supplier Gattefossé, Swiss based private label body care manufacturer CWK and Ecover – more famous for their household cleaning products with the brand branching out into the personal care category with their hand soap range.

Never a better time to buy

Simon Chrismas at GreenPalm, "We have been delighted with the response, we are talking to other key players in the industry and are confident this trend is going to continue throughout the rest of the year. There has never been a better time to buy; supply is outstripping demand across the RSPO supply chain options with total uptake at around the 50% mark. The current situation has resulted in trading of certificates below the $2 mark, if you are basing that on a commitment of let’s say 100 tonnes at our reduced brokerage costs – that equates to a total cost of $450 with the full certificate value going back to the RSPO approved producer. Palm producers have made their commitment in increasing numbers, we now need to see demand increase further to match the increasing supply otherwise where is the incentive to switch for the rest of the palm oil producer market?"

Still more to do – it’s not just about soap

There is nevertheless still a long way to go! In recent years there has been much coverage on sustainable palm oil in soap – with some high street names switching to certified palm sources, and others choosing to re-formulate away from palm-based soaps.

Catherine Hansen, AAK’s Personal Care Product Manager, "Sustainable palm is not synonymous with soap – there are lots of more complex palm derivatives in cosmetic & toiletry products, for which segregated supply streams simply do not exist. This is where GreenPalm really comes into its own to service the complexities of the personal care industry. Need RSPO certified SLES, IPM, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid? GreenPalm is the only RSPO certified option that really works for these ingredients. By doing so you are contributing to the development of RSPO approved palm oil – and helping to make sustainably produced palm oil the norm."

With the next WWF scorecard due out shortly, consumers being increasingly product savvy and the increased supply driving prices down, there has never been a better time to show support for sustainable palm production.

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AAK Personal Care (more information, website)