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Sustainable Palm (Kernel) Oil

Many ingredients, such as emulsifiers and surfactants that are essential to the production of cosmetics are usually derived from mineral or plant oils; palm (kernel) oil is one of these. As a cosmetics manufacturer Beiersdorf does not directly procure palm (kernel) oil and neither do we produce any of its derivatives, i.e. materials that are further refined or processed from palm (kernel) oil.

Beiersdorf Sustainiability Park Kernel

All our suppliers are contractually required to comply with our Code of Conduct for Suppliers: This defines social and environmental standards and therefore supports responsible sourcing. Furthermore we are working closely with our suppliers to drive sustainable palm cultivation and a sustainable palm (kernel) oil industry. We see building transparency in the supply chain as a major step forward, and together we aim to make the palm (kernel) oil-based raw materials we use traceable all the way from the source of feedstock to their derivatives.
A sustainable palm (kernel) oil industry does not cause the deforestation of ecologically vital rainforests (primary or secondary forests). If they are cultivated sustainably, palm trees are environmentally very efficient oil-bearing plants that require a minimum of land for maximum output. For this reason we are engaged through the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” (RSPO) and the “German Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil” (FONAP) for a sustainable palm (kernel) oil industry.

As a FONAP member we additionally advocate the further development of the existing certification criteria, which include:

  • A ban of palm plantations on peat land and other carbon-rich land
  • A ban on the use of severely hazardous pesticides (as defined under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, WHO 1a and 1b, including paraquat)
  • The application of strict reduction targets for greenhouse gases
  • A guarantee that when certified palm-oil mills also procure non-certified raw palm materials (fresh fruit bunches), they obtain these exclusively from legal cultivation.

In recent years we have made continual progress in our transition to sustainable palm (kernel) oil. By 2020 we plan to switch all our palm (kernel) oil-based product and formula ingredients to physical certified sustainable palm (kernel) oil. Our objective is the full transition to at a minimum mass balanced palm (kernel) oil and its derivatives. Until then we will continue to balance our remaining requirement by purchasing Book and Claim certificates on the RSPO trading platform. Thanks to this, since 2014 we have covered 100% of the palm (kernel) oil-based raw materials we use with certificates, either through directly certified raw materials procuring or through Book and Claim certificates.

Our Palm Sustainability Roadmap

Our Palm Sustainability Roadmap supports us in steering and coordinating our company’s progress towards raw material procurement from certified sustainable sources – worldwide. In 2016 we reached a major milestone by achieving official RSPO Supply Chain Certification: In the audit we demonstrated our thorough alignment with a sustainable palm (kernel) oil industry and proved that we fulfill all corresponding RSPO criteria. We were consequently awarded the RSPO Multi-Site SCCS certificate. The first shipments of certified sustainable palm (kernel) oil-based materials already reached our production plants in 2015. By the end of 2017 we had achieved a 54% conversion to mass-balanced palm (kernel) oil-based raw materials. Until we reach our objective of full transition by 2020 we will continue to offset the remaining share of our uptake with certificates.

Information on current industry measures on the path to sustainable palm oil is available here:

Methods of Procuring Certified Sustainable Palm (Kernel) Oil under the RSPO Supply Chain Certification Standard:

Beiersdorf Sustainability Products Palmoil

"Book and Claim"  refers to online trade using volume certificates. A virtual certificate is purchased by the end-product producer for each metric ton of palm (kernel) oil actually used; further, they purchase this certificate from a supplier that can prove they have produced a ton of sustainable palm (kernel) oil. This volume-based balancing ensures that certified raw materials have been used right from the plantation, through the mill to the finished product – independently of the physical supply chain.

Differing from the Book and Claim model, certified palm (kernel) oil is physically present in the end products in the following three models; however, only in “Segregated” and “Identity Preserved” is there a strict differentiation between certified sustainable and conventional raw materials.  

"Mass Balance" (MB) describes the controlled mixing of certified sustainable and conventional palm (kernel) oil at any stage in the supply chain. There are no requirements for separate storage or control in the production process, as long as the volumes of certified material bought and sold can be accurately reconciled. Therefore the end products are also understood as “mass balanced”.  

"Segregate" (SG) requires the complete separation of certified sustainable and conventional palm (kernel) oil. The end product therefore contains 100% sustainably produced palm (kernel) oil.

"Identity Preserved" (IP) describes the strict physical separation of certified palm (kernel) oils originating from different plantations. The criteria for this certification apply throughout the supply chain, also during transportation and storage. The sustainable palm (kernel) oil contained in the end product is therefore unequivocally identifiable and can be traced back to plantation level.