Avon pledges commitment to sustainable palm oil

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Avon is making a commitment to sustainable palm oil, a move that is in line with a number of recent initiatives from some of the biggest international cosmetic companies.

In an announcement that was tied in with an initiative to promote Earth Month with the launch of a consumer funding campaign, the company said it was entering into a Palm Oil Promise.

This entails following newly forged guidelines that pledge Avon's complete supply chain to purchasing ‘sustainably sourced palm oil’, aiming to avoid palm oil sourced in regions such as Borneo, where deforestation is said to pose a serious threat to the eco-system.

Palm oil is used in cosmetics and personal care products as well as many food items including margarines, biscuits and bakery products. According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), it is estimated that about half of the packaged products in supermarkets contain palm oil.

Book and claim certificates

Avon says that to implement the initiative and to encourage all of its suppliers, it is introducing ‘book and claim certificates’, which the company says should amount to 100 percent of the palm oil derivates it uses to produce many of its cosmetic and personal care products.

The company also confirmed that it has joined RSPO, an initiative that has been spearheaded by Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who helped co-found the organization back in 2004, alongside the World Wildlife Fund.

As part of its membership to the roundtable, Avon has committed to purchase 80 percent of its palm oil by 2015 from tier one palm oil suppliers who are members of the body.

Unilever also makes pledges to sustainable palm oil

Similar to Avon’s pledge, Unilever announced last year that it would source segregated sustainable palm oil as part of its target to utilize 100 percent sustainable palm oil in all of its consumer products by 2015.

The traceability, and the ability to keep the sustainable oil separate from the rest of the non-certified palm oil, has been challenging. However, last year IOI-Loders Croklaan opened a new refinery on the Rotterdam Massvlakte which enables the company to keep the sustainable oil separate.

IOI-Loders Croklaan claims the refinery is environmentally friendly and has the storage capacity, infrastructure and certification to keep the sustainable oil separate.

While manufacturers using the segregated sustainable palm oil can inform consumers that the product contains 100 per cent RSPO certified sustainable palm oil, Unilever said it does not yet know where the oil will end up.

RSPO launches logo

Following on from the IOI-Loders Croklaan initiate, towards the end of last year, the RSPO launched a logo that can be displayed on product packaging to inform consumers that the palm oil within has been sourced following RSPO rules.

The new RSPO trademark, which retailers and manufacturers can apply for early 2011, is designed for certified products that either use the RSPO’s segregated system, where only certified sustainable palm oil is present in the product, or the mass balance system, where mixed sources of oil are used but the mass of palm oil in the product corresponds to the production of sustainable palm oil.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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