The RSPO (roundtable on sustainable palm oil) is meeting in London to discuss the labelling and traceability of sustainable palm oil, a growing green trend.
The RSPO is an organization with a mission to produce the so much needed palm oil reducing the high environmental costs associated with its conventional production.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is the oil produced from the fleshy mesocarp of the palm oil fruit. Palm oil happens to be the vegetable oil with the highest world production. It has a high yield and contains very interesting fatty acids, making it a precious source of many natural commodities used in the manufacturing of many ingredients in the food industry. The palm kernel oil (obtained from the seed instead of the fleshy mesocarp) is also a very interesting oil and it is used to produce several cosmetic ingredients. There are no crops as efficient and as precious as the ones from the palm oil fruit.
Why sustainable palm oil?
After decades of extensive cultivation of palm oil fruit has caused serious side effects such as deforestation and wild life habitat destruction.
At the moment palm oil is still the most efficient way of producing key natural commodities. Therefore the RSPO has created a standard for certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) where key criteria are introduced to find the sweet spot between the need for palm oil production and the need to protect the environment. Some of the criteria are:
-pesticides and fire use reduction
-areas with high biodiversity can not be cleared for palm oil production
-fair treatment of workers
In order to verify the criteria are met, full traceability has to be in place, something that does not come cheap. Despite that, sustainable palm oil is certainly becoming the growing green trend of the moment. Several cosmetic companies, from cosmetic ingredients producers to beauty brands are part of the RSPO.
Time will tell how this initiative will have a beneficial environmental impact and if higher production volume will make its price more competitive.