Sourcing: Palm Oil

The Problem

Palm oil is a significant ingredient in our cleaners and laundry detergents, as well as over half of the products in a typical supermarket. The sharp increase in world-wide demand has led to widespread conversion of tropical rainforests and peat lands to palm oil plantations — with devastating effects on both indigenous people and native species. Beyond these localized impacts to communities and the forest ecosystem, replacing rainforest ecosystems releases significant levels of greenhouse gases. Indonesia is now the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases as a result of this massive land conversion. Learn more about palm oil and the work our friends at Rainforest Action Network are doing to help transform the palm oil industry here.

Our Solution

In an industry-leading initiative, Seventh Generation committed to sourcing 100% of our needs from sustainable palm oil by 2012. As a step toward this goal, we purchased sustainable palm oil certification credits to offset the palm oil use for all of our products in 2009, the first U.S. household products company to do so. While this is an important first step, purchasing credits doesn’t means we can be sure that our products actually contain any sustainable palm oil, only that the specified amount of sustainable palm oil entered the world market. Working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, we are laying the groundwork now so that by 2012 we will be able to ensure that the palm oil we purchase and actually use in our products is sustainable.

In addition to our policy and industry engagement work on palm oil, part of our strategy has been to elevate the issue in the minds of consumers, which is why we were so pleased to produce a public webcast on the problems with palm. Our founder, Jeffrey Hollender, hosted Michael Besancon from Whole Foods Market, Leila Salazar-Lopez from Rainforest Action Network, and Matilda Pilacapio, a minor landholder from Papua New Guinea. Matilda provided riveting and informative stories of how rapid expansion in palm oil cultivation has had a profound impact on the way of life for communities that live among the palm oil plantations.

Learn about our efforts in 2008 to lay the groundwork for our commitment to sustainable palm oil here.

Watch excerpts from our palm oil webcast here.


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