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Palm oil has become a high profile material as the ethical and environmental consequences of palm oil production have become clear. Widespread and rapid deforestation for palm oil plantations has destroyed endangered species habitat and spurred human rights abuses and social conflict. Henkel and BASF are collaborating with Solidaridad to launch local projects that promote sustainable palm oil production. Both companies are major manufacturers of chemicals used in cosmetics and home care products; palm oil is a commonly used ingredient. “We believe that we can only find solutions for sustainable, certified palm oil products by working together to preserve the forests and improve the living conditions of the people in the farming areas,” according to Jan-Peter Sander of BASF Personal Care Europe.

Solidaridad’s program trains smallholders on how to implement sustainable farming methods. BASF became an industry partner earlier this year and Henkel has been a partner for nearly 5 years. The program will ultimately impact approximately 5,500 farmers and target a total area of approximately 16,000 hectares in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Specifically, smallholders will receive guidance on how to meet RSPO sustainability certification standards and provided with tools for improving their living conditions.  To do this, farmers are trained on efficient production methods that help them increase their yield and their income, and on health and safety standards.

In addition to palm oil, Solidaridad drives ethical and sustainable standards for a number of materials, including: cotton, tea, sugarcane, textiles, soy, gold, and coffee. The organization develops solutions such as tools, methodologies, and policies, providing a framework that diverse stakeholders utilize to move toward sustainable palm oil. Solidaridad’s network of partners include global brands, local producers, service providers throughout the supply chain, civil society, and governments.

Commitments to sustainable supply chains were also discussed during the August 2 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in Beijing, China. The conference was focused on engaging Chinese business support for sustainable palm oil in Southeast Asia. China expressed a commitment to developing recommendations for responsible procurement policies. However, the Director of Wilmar palm oil operations in China expressed that aligning business leaders with sustainablility goals is a challenge due to an insufficient business case.

The Africa Sustainable Palm Oil Conference, organized by Solidaridad, Proforest and RSPO will also take place in Ghana Sept 6-7. The focus of the conference will be on defining best practices for business sustainability and standardizing ways for smallholders to access the global marketplace.

Increasing international cooperation and supply chain communication is becoming the norm as efforts on sustainable palm oil gain momentum. Collaboration and data sharing is necessary from all levels of the supply chain in order for companies to advance their palm oil efforts, responding to global consumer demand for sustainable ingredients and international pressure. Click here to learn more about how technology solutions help to enable transparent supply chains.