Our commitment: a cautious use of natural resources
The world population is growing rapidly—and the demand for vegetable oil is, too. Large-scale deforestation and environmental destruction are the result.
The current global demand for oleochemical raw materials is resulting in more and more wildlife habitats being turned into arable land. Nature is paying its due to consumer practices around the world, as these are threatening the existence of rainforests and wetlands. Nearly half of all natural habitats have already fallen prey to this trend, and numerous species have become endangered because of it.
The double-edged character of palm oil use
The raw materials used by the cosmetic industry mostly come from countries in the Global South. Palm oil, for instance, is an ingredient that supplies valuable fatty acids for a wide range of cosmetics. The cultivation of oil palms is undeniably one of the industry’s greatest challenges. The growing demand for palm oil is compounded by a lack of regional development options that continue to lead to devastating and even illegal deforestation of highly valuable biospheres. Significant portions of rainforest are cleared every year, negatively affecting biodiversity and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Palm oil cultivation, however, only takes up some six percent of all arable land used for plant oil production, while yielding a third of global plant oil. On average, the output of alternatives such as sunflower, rapeseed, coconut or soy plants is three times lower than that of oil palms, and these other plants require greater quantities of pesticides, fertilizer and water.
Our goal is to be part of the solution - not the problem
Consequently we’re making a significant effort to implement and improve sustainability standards along the supply chain of renewable feedstocks. At Evonik Industries, we’ve already established clear procurement strategies and risk management systems for our critical raw materials, such as conflict minerals, and renewable raw materials, such as palm oil. At Care Solutions, we’ve therefore come together with our customers to define Responsible Sourcing Criteria for supply chains all the way to the plantation level. We carry out ongoing supplier evaluations and promote those suppliers who best meet our targets of responsible sourcing, traceability and ecological compliance. These include:
Traceability of palm oil derivatives to plantations or mills.
Compliance with the laws of the country of operation. Suppliers must confirm their legal compliance along the supply chain with a focus on anti-corruption and land-tenure rights.
Expanding palm plantations must ensure conservation and restoration of High Conservation- and Carbon Stock areas and peatlands.
Compliance and informed consent from indigenous peoples and local communities regarding new plantations, focusing on land-grabbing procedures and ILO rights of workers.
Suppliers of palm-based products must either be a member of the RSPO or comply with the sourcing rules set by the RSPO and validated by external partners.
In addition to these supply chain criteria, we’ve also adopted the following self-imposed commitments:
To improve the social and educational level of small-holders and make a positive contribution to the livelihood of underprivileged people associated with palm oil production.
To economically integrate indigenous peoples and communities.
To improve processes and feedstock efficiency.
To implement innovative forest and peatland management systems.
And by 2023, we want to be exclusively using traceable and sustainable edible oil esters and primary derivatives of palm oil.
We know the challenges of responsible sourcing, but meeting these challenges is not something we can achieve on our own. It’s yet another reason why we joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)—to improve supply chain transparency.
Because for us, transparency is the major component for responsible sourcing. And it is only when we have completely achieved this, that ecological and social efforts will be able to go hand in hand into the future.