Suppliers, manufacturers and retailers in Sweden have joined together in an initiative enabling a long-term switch to more sustainably produced, certified and traceable palm oil in both cosmetics and hygiene products such as detergents and cleaning products, reports
Kemisk-Tekniska Leverantörsförbundet (Chemical-Technical Association).
Through the initiative, they want to contribute to an increased use of responsibly produced and certified palm oil and palm kernel oil, an increased traceability of the raw material stage and the demand for responsibly produced palm oil to increase.
Swedish retailers, suppliers and manufacturers are actively and jointly working to get this initiative to succeed in the long term, which means a transition to more sustainable palm oil according to the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) principles (or equivalent) for sustainable cultivation and palm oil production. Participants in the initiative undertake to ensure that at least 90% of the palm oil used should be sustainably sourced by 2020. By spreading the initiative the ambition is to cover the larger part of the palm oil used in the Swedish market for cosmetics, hygiene and cleaning products.
“Retail sales of both cosmetics and groceries are those who have been most active in this project. Our role as industry association has been coordinating all the different wills so that we have a system that makes it possible for everyone suppliers, large and small, to join,” says KTFs CEO Olof Holmer.
Sustainable palm oil must become the norm
Palm oil comes from the so-called oil palm grown in countries with warm climates. Indonesia and Malaysia account for about 85% of global palm oil production. About 4.5 million people have palm oil as their main source of income in Southeast Asia. The global demand for palm oil is growing and palm oil in various forms is now used in a variety of contexts and replaces increasingly petroleum-based raw materials. Right cultivated oil palm is probably one of the most resource-efficient ways to get access to vegetable oils, because the yield is about 5 times higher per hectare cultivated than other comparable crops. Unfortunately, there are, however, palm oil farming that cannot be called sustainable because it overrides important natural values and human rights.
It is rarely as pure palm oil or palm kernel oil is used in cosmetics and cleaning products. The largest use comprises instead of various derivatives where the oil has been modified to a range of other substances with other features. This makes the transition more complex since closer knowledge of the origin is not normally available in the market for these substances.
“It is important that trade and suppliers in Sweden show the way and drive the use of palm oil in a more responsible direction. We welcome the widest possible adoption of the initiative and it will be very interesting to see how many we can get in,” says the initiative’s chairman Malin Bjurvald.
Companies within retail and suppliers of chemical products in Sweden have conceptualised this initiative. The Chairman is KICKS’ Sustainability Manager Malin Bjurvald and KTFs CEO Olof Holmer is Secretary.
Palm oil is primarily used in food and biofuels. But it is also an important raw material in chemistry. It gives us for example glycerol and fatty acids, but also surfactants that are essential for products such as laundry detergents and soap.
Recently there has been focus on how the oil palm is grown. Sometimes it is done in ways that cannot be considered sustainable. Even if food and biofuels are the dominant uses of palm oil, the cosmetic and detergent industry also has a responsibility to promote sustainable palm oil.