Natural Resources Stewardship Circle

Promoting best practices and responsible sourcing in the beauty, fragrance and flavors industries

Palm Oil



For several years now, the production of palm oil and its derivatives has been repeatedly fingered as having a negative impact on the environment. Deforestation, pollution, destruction of biodiversity, and global warming are now seen as being the results of intense production of this oil, a product that is praised and decried with equal passion.

This ingredient is used in many formulas, mainly in the form of derivatives of palm oil or palm kernel oil, and now has a major role in the cosmetics and perfume industries. Six years ago, NRSC members committed to forming a united front to learn more about palm oil supply chains and to invite their suppliers to transition towards products that are less harmful to forests and the environment.  

A particularly complex supply chain


Though there isphoto-3 a true desire to transform the supply chain, doing so in practice is a long, painstaking task. As nearly 45% of palm oil is produced by small producers, traceability is a major challenge. To address this challenge, the NRSC’s Palm Oil Working Group has been collaborating since 2014 with The Forest Trust (TFT), an international non-profit organization that helps businesses and communities market responsible products.



As Charlotte Goubin, Member Manager at TFT explains: “The objective of the partnership between the TFT and the NRSC is to work on the supply chains of its members to achieve palm-oil traceability. Once traceability has been achieved, we hope to work with the actors in the identified supply chain to help transform the chain, transitioning toward zero-deforestation, zero-exploitation palm oil.”

Between 2012 and 2016, the key partners assembled in five workshops, which made it possible to pinpoint the actors in the field and map palm oil suppliers. According to Mickael Blais, Responsible Sourcing Leader at the Givaudan Group, “Currently, more than 60% of the oil can be traced back to the export refineries. We can now begin the phase of risk assessment and supply-chain transformation. So we still have a lot of work to do.” Today, though NRSC members know the sources of their palm oil, they must now learn more about how it is produced and how to encourage a transition to responsible practices! 


A comprehensive approach to changing industry practices


aceh_0828The cosmetics industry, consuming only a very small portion of the world’s palm oil production, has no choice but to embrace and apply a collective approach to transform the supply chain. For Mickael Blais, Responsible Sourcing Leader at the Givaudan Group, this entails “forging a ‘small-in-a-big world’ approach: We cannot change the supply chain on our own, so we focus on generating dialogue with suppliers to work our way up the supply chain, thereby spurring key players in palm oil production to change.”


Statement : NRSC Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Principles