Sustainable palm oil push: PZ Cussons ‘immediate priorities’ satellite tracking and supplier engagement

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

PZ Cussons will continue to work with smallholder palm oil farmers, despite complexities (Getty Images)
PZ Cussons will continue to work with smallholder palm oil farmers, despite complexities (Getty Images)

Related tags Palm oil Sustainable palm oil RSPO Supply chain compliance sourcing

PZ Cussons will continue monitoring its palm oil supply chain through independent satellite tracking technology and work closely with high-impact and smallholder suppliers for the last push on its goal of 100% ‘no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation’ NDPE standards.

 The British personal care major initially wanted to achieve this by the end of 2019 but pushed back to the end of 2020 to enable it to continue working directly with smallholder palm oil farmers, particularly in Nigeria.

A member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2010, PZ Cussons had stretched its sustainable palm engagement further – working with additional independent verification systems to reach NDPE standards, not currently achievable with the RSPO alone.

PZ Cussons palm oil promise includes ‘support for small-scale farmers’

So far, PZ Cussons said it had achieved over 90% on its key performance indicators (KPIs) within its sustainable palm oil action plan, including traceability and transformation efforts, and it was now focused on achieving 100% traceability and ‘no deforestation, no peat and no exploitation’ NDPE palm oil by the end of 2020.

“PZ Cussons’ palm oil promise includes support for small-scale farmers and so, whilst changing supply could have been an easier way to meet the target, the company has chosen to continue to engage and inspire them to change,”​ the company said.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Sam Plant, corporate services director at PZ Cussons, said despite “ongoing challenges and complexity”​ in the palm oil industry, the company remained on track for the end of 2020.

“We know that the year ahead will be even more challenging as we work to close the gap to 100% and focus on independent verification. However, our commitment remains as strong as ever,” ​Plant said.

Satellite tracking and social engagement ‘immediate priorities’

Plant said the “immediate priorities” ​would be to continue working with Starling satellite tracking technology and on-the-ground social engagement with suppliers.

The Starling technology – created by Airbus and Earthworm Foundation – he said, provided high-resolution imagery and radar data that enabled the company to monitor its entire palm oil supply chain for land coverage change and forest cover loss. For independent monitoring of social and environmental issues among local people, he said PZ Cussons was working with Kumacaya.

“Our immediate priorities are to continue using Starling data to independently verify compliance and focus on engaging with high impact suppliers to help bring them into compliance.”

Many of the smallholder farmers, particularly those in Nigeria, were “not accustomed to NDPE commitments”, ​he said, and needed to be engaged with and inspired.

Beyond the supply chain? Transparency with consumers ‘extremely important’

Plant said that beyond on its supply chain, PZ Cussons was also focused on the consumer-facing side of business as well.

“Transparency with consumers is extremely important to us, which is why it forms a core pillar of our 2020 palm oil action plan.”

PZ Cussons published updates on its palm oil advances every six months, he said, naming all direct suppliers, mill parent companies and mill co-ordinates online.

On the idea the company could look for an alternative to palm oil, Plant said: “Actively supporting the responsible development of the palm oil supply chain is a priority for PZ Cussons as we do not believe that switching to an alternative ingredient would have a positive impact, as alternatives such as soy or vegetable oil, require more land to produce the equivalent amount of oil.”

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