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The Body Shop produces first cosmetics using sustainable palm oil

By Louise Prance , 13-Jul-2007

Growing concerns regarding irresponsible palm oil production has led The Body Shop to announce an initiative to introduce sustainable palm oil into cosmetic manufacturing.

The company, owned by France-based cosmetics giants L'Oreal, is set to become the first cosmetics retailer to bring sustainable oil to the market, following the partnership with Daboon, a certified organic producer in Colombia. "The switch to sustainable palm oil is a landmark step forward for The Body Shop and a potentially groundbreaking development for the whole cosmetics industry," CEO of Body Shop, Peter Saunders, told socialfunds.com.


"Many people who use soap everyday will be unaware that they are contributing to a major environmental catastrophe: the destruction of ancient rainforests and the extinction of endangered species" he said. In a bid to tackle mounting apprehension over the continued state of the rainforest The Body Shop will now source its sustainable oil from Daboon who will liaise with local cooperatives in the move.


With The Body Shop producing over 14.5 million bars of soap per annum that contains the oil, it has a vested interest in maintaining a reliable and continued source for its production - whilst also trying to build on its 'natural' image that was tainted with the takeover from L'Oreal. The company is also hoping to inspire competing manufacturers with the new initiative, suggesting that there is a need for greater cooperation in the entire industry if ethical sourcing of the oil is going to continue.


"Our ambition is for the majority of the world's palm oil production to be sustainable within the next two to three years but this will not be achieved by The Body Shop in isolation - our decision must inspire other businesses to join us and tackle the problem head on," said Saunders. Part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a group seeking to reduce the environmental impact of palm oil production with around 250 members, The Body Shop has used the initiative to attempt to create strong standards for sustainable production.


With Palm Oil being one of the most highly manufactured and profitable seed oils in the world, millions of hectares of forests in countries such as Borneo, Indonesia and Colombia are being cleared to allow for cultivation.


Problems have arisen due to crops grown in large plantations being extremely profitable, with a single hectare of oil palm yielding 5000 kilograms of crude oil, or nearly 6000 litres of crude.

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