Cosmetics giant Avon has pledged to only buy palm oil from suppliers that can show it has not contributed to deforestation.
Avon said it recognised palm oil was a significant cause of tropical deforestation and peatland depletion, and that it could result in the loss of natural habitats for endangered species. It also acknowledged there were associated human rights issues.
In its latest Palm Oil Promise the company said it had updated its 2011 commitment, to ensure greater traceability and responsible sourcing in its palm oil supply chain. It will only buy palm oil, palm kernel oil (PKO) and palm/PKO derivatives from suppliers that can trace their palm oil to a point in the supply chain where they can demonstrate it meets Avon’s sourcing principles.
Growers must protect peatlands from new plantation development, have a no burning policy and use best management practices for plantations. They must comply with all relevant local, national, and international laws, track and report on the carbon footprint of their production, and protect the rights of workers and indigenous communities.
Suppliers must be compliant with existing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil principles and criteria, or equivalent standard, and commit to having a credible and accessible grievance mechanism. They should also facilitate the inclusion of small holders into the supply chain.
Where suppliers are found to be non-compliant, Avon will work with them to create a corrective action plan, the company said. It will find alternative suppliers to replace suppliers who do not take action in a reasonable timeframe.
Avon said it aimed to complete a detailed internal analysis of its palm oil use and complete internal training of sourcing teams by December. This will be followed by the publication of an implementation plan in February.
The company said: “The traceability of palm and PKO derivatives is complex and we know this will not be an easy journey, but Avon is committed to implementing a plan to achieve responsible palm oil sourcing.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which scored the palm oil sourcing polices of the 40 companies in April, welcomed the promise. Lael Goodman, analyst with UCS’s tropical forest and climate initiative, said: “The company's actions will increase the demand for deforestation-free palm oil. By requiring that any palm oil supplier from which Avon sources meets these requirements, these companies will in turn be required to ensure their palm oil operations across the board will be free of deforestation and peatland destruction.”