As one of the larger drivers of deforestation we are profoundly aware of the ethical, environmental, and social implications of using palm oil. However, the question of whether or not to use palm oil is complex and challenging. We hope this page provides you with some answers and helps inform you to make purchasing decisions that align with your values. For more learning we recommend this great article by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ‘8 Things To Know About Palm Oil’.
Is there palm oil in Emma Lewisham products?
No. But we do have ingredients in our products that are made from palm oil (i.e. palm oil derivatives) that have been sourced from RSPO* certified suppliers. These ingredients are mainly found in our surfactants and emulsifiers, including: Cetearyl alcohol, Cetearyl olivate, Cetyl alcohol, Glyceryl stearate citrate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Brassica alcohol, Capric/caprylic triglyceride, Caprylhydroxamic acid, Isopropyl palmitate, Coco-caprylate, Sorbitan Olivate, Isostearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate.
*The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the leading certification body of sustainable palm. They have developed a set of environmental and social criteria which suppliers must comply with to be Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
In 2018 RSPO ordered a total ban on deforestation by its members, amid growing pressure from both consumers and businesses. While the RSPO’s previous standards prohibited the clearing of primary, or virgin, forest to make way for palm plantations, they did allow for the cutting of secondary forests and peat forests with a peat layer less than 3 meters (10 feet) deep.
The RSPO’s new standards mean palm oil growers must ensure future land clearing doesn’t cause deforestation or damage areas especially rich in carbon, including peatlands and high carbon stock (HCS) forests. This means no more planting of oil palms in peat of any depth.
Why do you use palm oil derivatives?
The challenge is, it is close to impossible to create a luxurious, effective natural skincare product without the use of palm oil-derived substances, and this is why there are very few who do so. If it is not palm extracts used, the alternative is typically coconut extracts. Not using either of these extracts would mean we wouldn’t have Emma Lewisham products, and therefore wouldn’t be able to influence and make the changes to the beauty industry that we are so determined to. We need to be in the game to change the game.
See this check list by the WWF for companies using palm oil.
Why don’t you use coconut oil or any other oil derivatives?
There is a common misconception that palm oil is ‘bad’ and coconut oil is ‘good’. The reality is – it’s not black and white. Coconut oil also has it’s own environmental and social impacts that need to be considered including monkeys being forced to pick on some coconut farms. The major issue is not what oil is used but how the oil is grown and produced. The questions we need to consider include:
- How was it farmed?
- Were agrichemicals used? If yes, what ones and how much?
- Are the workers fairly paid and cared for?
- Is there any forced animal labour?
- What impacts is the farm having on the local ecosystem?
The reason palm oil is so popular is the fact that it is the most efficient form of vegetable oil (it produces the most oil per square metre of land).
“Palm oil is an incredibly efficient crop, producing more oil per land area than any other equivalent vegetable oil crop. Globally, palm oil supplies 35% of the world’s vegetable oil demand on just 10% of the land. To get the same amount of alternative oils like soybean or coconut oil you would need anything between 4 and 10 times more land, which would just shift the problem to other parts of the world and threaten other habitats and species. Furthermore, palm oil is an important crop for the GDP of emerging economies and there are millions of smallholder farmers who depend on producing palm oil for their livelihood. Boycotting palm oil is not always the answer, but demanding more action to tackle the issues and go further and faster, is.” – wwwf.org.uk
See this WWF website for detailed information on the palm oil challenge and to search their directory for brands that use certified sustainably and ethically sourced palm oil (and those that don’t).
Where has Emma Lewisham got to?
It has been a non-negotiable for Emma Lewisham to understand where all our ingredients come from and how people, the planet and animals have been treated in the making of them. We have challenged the conventions in beauty by digging into the sprawling global supply chain that makes up beauty. Traceability is extremely difficult in beauty. It is an industry that has been operating in secrecy as to the origin of the ingredients used and their sources. We spent 1 year pushing for change and for transparency in our supply chain, and now have 100% traceability of our ingredient suppliers.
Palm oil is an ingredient we have spent a lot of time becoming educated on, speaking to environmentalists, sustainability consultants and scientists to ensure we can make informed decisions and can share these with our customers, as to why we have made them. Based on our research, Palm oil is here to stay. We therefore urgently need concerted action to make palm oil production more sustainable, ensuring that all parties – governments, producers and the supply chain – honour their social and environmental responsibilities.
Emma Lewisham only uses palm extracts that are RSPO mass balanced supply chain certified. This means sustainable palm oil from certified sources is mixed with ordinary palm oil throughout supply chain. However, we aspire to have all our palm oil derived ingredients to be ‘RSPO Segregated’ (this means certified RSPO oil is kept separate from ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain) and Identity Preserved (from a single identifiable certified source).
We believe this is the holy grail of using palm oil derivates (and any vegetable oil). However, this is currently close to impossible to attain, as the demand simply does not meet supply. We collectively as an industry and individuals need to be pushing for this level of sustainable palm oil. We are pushing our manufacturer for it, and are educating you, our customer, so you can ask the other brands you shop with for Segregated and Identity Preserved sustainable palm oil products.
In line with our mission to become a circular business that has a regenerative impact on the environment and communities we operate in we have adopted 7 orangutans through the Orangutan Project.
What can you do to help?
Here are some tips to help reduce the demand on palm oil and ensure the palm oil that is grown is done so for the betterment of the local environment and communities.
- Palm oil is used extensively in processed foods. A great way for you to limit your demand on the global palm oil supply is to avoid eating processed foods. Eat locally grown real food instead. This will also improve your health and your skin!
- Research who you are buying your products from. Do they have a policy on their use of oils in their products? Do they have certifications on the supply of oils they use? Don’t give your money to those who exploit people or the environment.
- Don’t waste any beauty products, use or donate everything you buy.
- Use less. Rather than applying a myriad of products on your skin can you use products with multifunctional formulations?
We hope the above shows that we are truly trying to do our best and not turn a blind to this devastating issue. Being a caring, accountable, transparent company is very important to Emma Lewisham and our team, so if you have any further questions or input on our decision here, please email email@example.com