Palm Oil (PO) and Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) are raw materials for many of the plant-based ingredients that are used widely throughout the ecostore product range. Even though we use these ingredients we understand and agree with public concern about PO so we wanted to talk about why we use it and what we’re doing to try and change things.
Palm oil is an important and versatile raw material for many industries but increased global demand has led to careless and large-scale destruction of forests and peat-swamps, threatening critically endangered species including the orangutan, polluting air and waterways, worsening climate change and dispossessing indigenous peoples. This situation is not acceptable to us and even though ecostore is only a small player in a large industry, we’re committed to being part of the solution.
ecostore uses plant-based ingredients derived from Palm Oil (PO) and PKO in our products because they’re healthier and safer than petrochemical alternatives. We think certified sustainable PO/PKO are the best possible alternatives to petroleum derivatives (and even to other plant-based raw materials like coconut). Oil palms are highly efficient oil producers, with each fruit containing about 50% oil. As a result they require up to ten times less land than other oil-producing crops. PO and PKO are also entirely GM free.
Palm oil goes by many other names
- Emulsifier 422
- Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate
- Elaesis guineensis
- Hexadecyclic or palmitic acid
- Hydrated palm glycerides
- Palm oil kernel
What are we doing about our use of palm oil now?
ecostore was one of the first consumer businesses to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2007.
The RSPO is a global organisation promoting the growth and use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) products the establishment and ratification of global standards and engagement of stakeholders.
These standards make sure fundamental rights of local communities, plantation workers, small farmers and their families are respected and fully taken into account, that no new primary forests or high conservation value areas have been cleared for palm oil production since November 2005, and that mills and plantation owners minimize their environmental footprint.
ecostore takes part in the GreenPalm programme to support sustainable PO and PKO production.
Purchasing GreenPalm certificates to the equivalent of total tonnage of palm oil/palm kernel oil we use ensures that growers of sustainable oil are paid a premium.
The lack of infrastructure in these developing countries has meant there hasn’t been a way for small producers to get their certified sustainable product to market so it gets mixed with unsustainable oil on its way to us – but it’s a start.
By 2015 we’re aiming to achieve 100% use of CSPO
ecostore is working closely with raw materials suppliers to make sure all opportunities for CSPO sourcing are fully investigated and taken into account when making purchasing decisions. We have chosen to partner with BASF – our main plant-based chemical supplier because they have demonstrated their commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices by being the first specialty chemicals supplier to obtain worldwide ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications for quality and environmental management systems.
BASF and LG Chemical who supply the majority of our palm oil derived ingredients have also confirmed that by 2015 they will have converted to 100% certified sustainable palm oil. Currently we use up to 80% CSPO in our plant-based soaps.
We support efforts to bring down cost of certified sustainable raw materials by encouraging the purchase of CSPO by other manufacturers and suppliers.
Petrochemicals have a detrimental impact on the environment and on our health.
The petrochemical industry contributes heavily to the pollution of the air and the risks and impacts extend to our aquatic environment. Effluent coming from oil refineries pollutes our waterways and is lethal to aquatic species being hazardous to their growth and reproduction. Sea bed exploration and oil drilling has contributed to aquatic pollution, major crude oil spills that have occurred since the 1960’s. Other problems attributed to the petrochemical industry include the emissions of Volatile organic compound (VOC), chemicals that are contributors to acid rain and ozone depleting chemicals. Faced with increasing restraints on access to oil, companies are now pushing into some of the most fragile places on earth including our oceans, the Arctic, the tar sands of Canada and the New Zealand coastline.
Why we don’t switch to coconut.
Some of our competitors have switched from PO to coconut oil however this is not a long term solution as all viable plant‐based substitutes for palm oil including coconut have even greater environmental impacts, including higher contribution to global warming and significantly lower yield per square metre.
The only reason these oils are not raising similar concerns to PO is because of the comparatively low volume being used. If everyone started to use coconut we would cause even worse environmental damage. While the RSPO is working towards an increase in sustainable palm oil being used in the market, coconut oil does not have an equivalent body ensuring its sustainability.
Are better alternatives out there?
Algae-derived oils could one day replace palm derived oils for fuel, surfactants, soaps and packaging. Algae production has a beneficial effect on the environment by consuming CO2 a known greenhouse gas. It requires a small land use footprint, for example the US would only require 0.42% of its entire land mass to produce algae oils to provide enough fuel for the entire country. (1) Algae can be grown in most locations around the world as long as water is available.