RSPO reveals strong growth in sustainable palm oil

Sales of the ethically sourced cosmetics ingredient bloomed by 13% in 2019, boosted by sustainability initiatives from beauty giants such as L'Oréal and Esteé Lauder Companies

The sustainable palm oil industry saw significant growth in 2019, according to the latest data from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), as an increasing number of brands pledged their commitment to ethically sourced ingredients.

Sales of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) were up by 13% from January to December 2019, according to the RSPO's 2019 Impact Report, while the total RSPO certified area grew by 9% to 4.2 million hectares (ha) across 17 countries.

Meanwhile, the RSPO reported 'explosive' growth in membership in the past decade, counting a total of more than 4,500 members in the last year and a 579% increase in certified area to 4.2 million ha.

L'Oréal, Esteé Lauder Companies (ELC), Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Kao Corporation are among the members of the organisation who have committed to sourcing sustainable palm oil for use in their cosmetics and personal care products.

RSPO’s incoming Chief Executive Officer, Beverley Postma, said: “It is inspiring to see just how much has been achieved by RSPO members in the span of a decade, and more recently, to see several initiatives being launched that further solidify RSPO’s position as the leading sustainable palm oil certification standard.”

Today, almost 20% of palm oil globally is RSPO certified, with the majority coming from Indonesia and Malaysia, which covers a total of 81% of certified area.

L'Oréal and ELC recently teamed up with BASF and Solidaridad, a sustainable supply chain CSO, to provide hygiene kits to sustainable palm farmers in Indonesia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the palm oil industry has faced severe criticism for its negative impact on the environment in recent years, as clearing land for plantations results in destruction of wildlife habitats and large emissions of greenhouse gases; meanwhile, RSPO member PZ Cussons confirmed that the traceability of its palm oil supply has suffered due to Covid-19.

Postma added: “We know there is still a lot of work to be done if we truly are to achieve market transformation.

“I’m confident that RSPO members throughout the supply chain will work together to increase the uptake of CSPO, deliver positive impacts and tackle the other challenges and opportunities that may come our way in 2021 and beyond.”

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