Reckitt Benckiser and PZ Cussons use technology to observe supply chain

By Natasha Simpson

- Last updated on GMT

Reckitt Benckiser and PZ Cussons use technology to observe supply chain
The two leading multinational personal care companies partner up with Airbus and the Earthworm Foundation to support their No Deforestation policy by monitoring their palm oil supply chain.

Specialising in health, hygiene and home care products, British consumer goods company, Reckitt Benckiser (RB), and personal health care product manufacturer, PZ Cussons, take up the use of Starling satellite technology to closely watch their supply chains.

No Deforestation commitment

The use of Starling will enable the two consumer companies to see and verify the use of palm oil in their supply chain. Both RB and PZ Cussons have pledged their commitment and dedication to the NDPE (No Deforestation, Peat, Exploitation) policies. Established in 2011, NDPE sees consumer goods manufacturers, oil palm producers, traders, retailers, banks and pension funds commit to the initiative.

As part of their dedication to these policies, RB and PZ Cussons stipulate that their suppliers do not engage in activities that develop peatlands and forested land into oil palm plantations.

If these environmentally-protective policies are breached, this may result in the possibility of suspension or discontinuation of sourcing support in relation to raw materials and the overall supply chain.

For companies looking to access favourable and eco-friendly refineries and trade companies, zero deforestation is increasingly becoming a benchmark to commit to.

Four industry heads team up

The two personal care names have teamed up with non-profit organisation Earthworm Foundation — which focuses on encouraging and delivering a positive economic, environmental and social impact —  and global leader in aeronautics and space, Airbus, to use the satellite monitoring system.

Both RB and PZ Cussons were already members of the Earthworm Foundation. While “many companies have committed to meeting their environmental goals by 2020”​, Bastien Sachet, CEO of Earthworm Foundation explains that “while this was a very important step, our work on the ground shows us that there is a massive gap between the promises made and the reality that needs to be bridged”​.  

When it comes to bridging this gap, It is “essential”​ that companies have the “courage to proactively monitor and verify their supply chain”​, Sachet explains in order to enable the companies to “take concrete action on the ground and actually implement that commitment”​.

“We have committed to better protecting one of the world’s most valuable natural assets – its forests,”​ confirmed Miguel Veiga-Pestana, SVP for Corporate Affairs at RB.

The Starling satellite system

Leading food and drink name, Nestlé, became the first company to pledge to use the Starling satellite system in September 2018. Now, all of Nestlé’s palm oil supply chains are free from deforestation.

Highlighting the importance of collaboration, planning and the use of Starling as a “powerful tool”​, Veiga-Pestana went on to explain: ”Starling in 2018, in Malaysia, with one of our key suppliers of palm oil. With this tool we are now able to identify risk prone areas, predict potential deforestation and develop corrective actions.”

Airbus and Earthworm Foundation created the Starling monitoring technology, which uses both high resolution imagery and radar data to watch over land cover change to explore forest cover loss.

Using Airbus’s high-resolution SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 satellites, Starling is a private and independent tool that gives companies the visual ability to see how its commitment to the No Deforestation policy is playing out in real-time.

The tool processes data through the use of machine learning algorithms, which have been devised to cover sizeable and diverse geographical areas throughout the world. Due to the quality of its resolution, Starling technology displays reference maps that distinguish between production forests that contain palm plantations, natural forests and other areas.

Palm oil plan

Focusing on realising its upcoming objectives, PZ Cussons’ 2020 Action Plan sets out how the company will bring to reality its 2014 Palm Oil promise to source 100% of the palm oil used in its personal and home care, beauty and food products to come from producers whose total operations have been independently confirmed as compliant with No Deforestation/No Peat/No Exploitation (NDPE) standards.

“We hold ourselves accountable for the palm oil we source and are fully committed to playing our part in the reform of the industry,”​ Sam Plant from PZ Cussons, reveals. “Starling technology will help us track progress and take action, following on-going engagement with any non-compliant suppliers.”

Explaining how advancements in technology support companies in taking a stand against deforestation, revealed: “Thanks to satellite imagery from space we can offer a powerful tool, bringing extensive, impartial and cost-effective information in near real time, including the ability to differentiate replanting from deforestation.”

RB stated how it will begin to use Starling throughout its complete palm oil supply chain as it develops “a proactive approach with all our suppliers to monitor and eliminate deforestation over time”​, explained Veiga-Pestana.

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