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SC Johnson Commits to Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Leadership & Transparency

SC Johnson announced earlier this week that it will purchase 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2015. The company uses palm oil in many of its household cleaning products as a stabilizer. Palm oil is grown on huge plantations in tropical regions, and is in 50 percent of all consumer goods. Approximately 85 percent of all palm oil is grown in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea on plantations that, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), have adverse affects on the environment, including deforestation of rainforests.

"While SC Johnson's use of palm oil-based ingredients is relatively small, as a family company we believe responsibility is critical at every level. Being a smaller purchaser doesn't let us off the hook," said Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson. "Our commitment to the families who buy our products is that we will work hard to identify the best ingredients, we will source them responsibly and we will be transparent about what's inside our products."

SC Johnson recently held its seventh annual recycling event with employees and their families. Through the event over 33,000 pounds of electronic equipment was recycled. Employees in the company’s Business Process & Technology and Product Supply Environmental Operations groups organized the group.

"SC Johnson is committed to doing what's right for the environment, and the Recycling Program demonstrates that employees share that commitment," said Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication & Sustainability. "This year, 33,000 pounds of materials were safely recycled thanks to the passion of the organizing teams and the dedication of employees when it comes to recycling and to doing what's right for the environment."

Other companies commit to sourcing sustainable palm oil

Only about six percent of palm oil is sustainably grown, according to GreenPalm. Simon Chrismas, business development executive at GreenPalm, told Cosmetics Design, “From our conversations with various companies in the industry, the understanding of the issues and options available is largely there.” Christmas says that GreenPalm is “confident that other companies will make a firm commitment in 2011.”

General Mills announced last fall that it will source 100 percent sustainable palm oil by 2015. Even though General Mills uses much less palm oil than SC Johnson, about one-tenth of world production, the company believes that even companies who use small amounts of palm oil can impact other companies.

“The increase in global demand for palm oil is putting pressure on some of the world’s most valuable rainforest ecosystems,” said General Mills’ Chief Sustainability Officer Jerry Lynch.

General Mills has a policy in place should a supplier violate Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) policies. “If the supplier does not acknowledge and immediately move to acceptably remediate the concern,” the policy states, “General Mills will move to suspend or eliminate palm oil purchases from the supplier in question."

Nestle is the first company to commit to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Like General Mills, Nestle uses only a small amount of the world’s palm oil supply, about 0.7 percent. In 2009, the company committed last year to sourcing 100 percent of its palm oil from sustainable sources by 2015, and expects to reach the 50 percent mark by the end of this year. Nestle expects to source 50 percent of all palm oil purchased from sustainable sources.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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