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Working together towards sustainable palm oil

August 10, 2016

Modern consumers care about the environmental impact of the products they use. Especially the link of oil palm plantations to deforestation and loss of biodiversity is met with high public attention. Many suppliers and brand producers have committed themselves to certified sustainable palm products. BASF works closely with its partners in the value chain and has started a dialog to transform the market towards sustainable palm.

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For BASF, palm kernel oil in particular and its derivatives are key renewable raw materials. The oil from crushed palm kernels is the basis for many home and personal care ingredients offerings. Therefore BASF has set itself ambitious targets: The company is committed to source only sustainable oils certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) by 2020 and make this material available to the market.

By 2025, BASF wants to procure also its main intermediates based on palm oil and palm kernel oil from certified sources.

BASF looks at solutions along the value chain, for example to trace its raw materials upstream back to the oil mills.

First BASF Dialog on Palm and Cosmetics in Paris

As the world is consuming more and more palm oil for food, biofuel and personal and home care ingredients, the expansion of palm oil production continues to threaten environmentally sensitive areas of tropical forests and peatlands. With the urgency in sight: how does the cosmetics industry get to sustainable palm?

This was one of the questions discussed at BASF´s first Palm Dialog, which took place in Paris during the tradeshow in cosmetics in April 2016. More than 75 participants from industry, retail businesses, associations and non-governmental organizations as well as trade media representatives discussed the current situation and the possible pathways forward.

Certification requirements, transparency on cost impact and public awareness of the supply chain from smallholders to end consumers led the list of major concerns in the audience. “We can sort out the palm dilemma only jointly and we will have to consider the views of partners along the whole value chain”, said Jan-Peter Sander, Senior Vice President BASF Personal Care Europe.

Follow the dialog on Twitter (@basf_palm-dialog).

Background Facts

In 2015 the topic of palm oil was met with special high awareness as Indonesia was distressed with devastating forest fires which were provoked by illegal land clearance to make space for palm oil plantations. An area almost five times the size of Bali burned between June and October 2015. On the flipside, palm oil has become indispensable for world nutrition. Oil palms have the highest yield per hectare compared to other oil producing crops such as soybeans and rapeseed. They need significantly less land to grow the volumes of oil needed and as an important source of income have relieved poverty in producing regions. Facing this dilemma, many global players, including suppliers, brand manufacturers and retailers, have committed themselves to use certified sustainable palm products.