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Skincare companies under scrutiny over palm oil use



Top beauty firms have been criticised by environmental campaigners over the use of unsustainable palm oil as a key ingredient in their products.

A survey by the Rainforest Foundation UK and Ethical Consumer has investigated more than 25 skincare companies to assess whether they used palm oil and derivates in their products.

The survey – part of a consumer guide called Appetite for Destruction? on products containing palm oil – has found that leading companies including Clarins, Estée Lauder, Superdrug and ethical brands Jason and Avalon skin-care, rely on the unsustainable use of palm oil. Among companies that scored highest points are Satsuma, Pure Nuff Stuff and REN.

The use of palm oil has been linked to the destruction of rainforests and the habitat of orangutans.

Leonie Nimmo researcher at Ethical Consumer said, “The ugly truth is that whilst companies such as Clarins and Estée Lauder are involved in the beauty business, their products are implicated in some of the biggest acts of environmental destruction in the world.”

The Rainforest Foundation has claimed that palm oil companies have already destroyed huge areas of rainforest in Indonesia and are now planning to expand their business into the Congo Basin in Africa, home to gorillas and other primates.

Simon Counsell, director of the Rainforest Foundation said, “Today we call on these companies to face up to their environmental responsibilities, reduce their use of palm oil, and help ensure the long-term survival of the Congo rainforest, its people and unique wildlife.”

In May, the Rainforest Foundation and Ethical Consumer ranked commercial bakers over their environmental credentials regarding palm oil use.  Asda, Morrisons and Greggs – three of the UK’s biggest bakers and sandwich retailers – received the lowest scores in this latest investigation. The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s bakeries were the three top performers.

 Previously, in the Easter period, they had also assessed green credentials of chocolate retailers.

Further reading:

Commercial bakers ranked on palm oil use

Buying sustainable Easter eggs can save the rainforest

Friends of the Earth study links UK banks with land grabbing

Businesses taking steps to improve sustainable palm oil sourcing

The Guide to Fair Trade 2013