"Sustainable" Palm Oil and why Many Soap Makers have Switched to Using it
For quite some time, there
have been sustainability issues with Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil. They're both components that can contribute greatly to soap making, by creating a beautifully hard, and well lathering bar of soap, when paired with coconut oil, as well as being a very versatile raw materials.
In fact palm oil is found in about 50% of products on supermarket shelves. Demand for palm oil is always increasing, meaning that more land needs to be cleared for more oil palm plantations to meet global demand.
The importance of palm oil cannot be overstated, it is the most efficient oil crop available, and is crucial when it comes to feeding the growing number of people in the world. Not only that, many farmers around the world rely on the money they earn from harvesting palm to support their families.
One of the large reason for the initiation of the Rountable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), is that palm oil has been linked to the need to develop larger plantations to meet the demand for this raw material. One of the biggest producers of oil palm fruit is Malaysia, the
primary home of an endangered species – The Sumatran orangutan.
We here are RNtoZen only use Sustainable Palm Oil, so we only purchase our Palm Oil from venders who are members of the Rountable of Sustainable Palm Oil. As we continue to use this in many of our recipes, we continue to work on complete palm-free recipes entirely for those that prefer.
You can probably start to see the need for sustainable agriculture to maintain the economy while also stopping the damage to the environment. Sustainable palm oil is the only way we can move forward with using this versatile product.
In comes to play the Rountable for Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO.
Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
Founded in 2005, the RSPO aims at
creating a system to identify and certify sustainably grown palm oil. It also
creates the guidelines that member growers need to follow. RSPO guidelines do
not only focus on environmental issues. It focuses on having ethically sourced
As such, members have to provide improved working conditions, better wages and spearhead local discussions on the impact they have on the local and native land.
The RSPO guidelines aim at
ensuring that palm oil producers follow a legal, social and environmentally
responsible path to palm oil production. It received acknowledgement from the
World Wildlife Foundation.
The World Wildlife Foundations views RSPO as a milestone in the right direction for the production of palm oil. RSPO provides guidelines for the conservation of tropical forests and ensuring social safeguards in the production of certified sustainable palm oil.
Companies Registered with the RSPO
Palm oil is an essential ingredient in biodiesel and some commercial foods. It is also the primary cooking oil for some communities in Africa and Asia. Soap companies also use palm oil. Many companies have, therefore registered with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil as a means to ensure that they are part of the sustainable palm oil production.
Companies (including soap making)
that do not register with RSPO may miss out on potential business opportunities.
If a company avoids certification by RSPO or skips a few steps in the
certification process, it may risk being negatively exposed. Negative public
exposure harms companies.
Because RSPO is not only focusing on environmental conversation, companies with negative public exposure on RSPO may risk losing a lot more – including the trust of their customers.
Registering with RSPO shows that a company will show commitment in regulating its supply chain, ensuring that they will use ethically sourced palm oil. Because RSPO advocates for better working conditions and better wages, registered companies have reported reduced emission of greenhouse gases, better practices of waste management, reduced usage of pesticides, improved compliance with statutory regulatory requirements, reduction of workplace accidents, and enhanced productivity.
For all you beginner soap makers out there, read this post by Brambleberry, as it expands on many of these concepts!
As much as palm oil is an
essential component of many products, including foods, biofuel and soap,
clearing forest land for oil palm plantations causes land conflicts. Companies need to show commitment to the conservation of
forest land and the provision of a better working environment.
As such, they are registering with RSPO. Soap companies are some of the companies showing commitment to using ethically sourced palm oil.