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BASF beefs up palm oil traceability

BASF Personal Care Europe, part of the Care Chemicals division of Germany-headed global chemical major BASF has recently announced that its palm-based personal care specialties for the cosmetics industry will be offered exclusively as certified sustainable. The move was announced at its 3rd Palm Dialog event during the in-cosmetics global exhibition.

BASF’s division Care Chemicals offers a broad range of ingredients for personal care, hygiene, home care, industrial and institutional cleaning, and technical applications. The company is a leading global supplier for the cosmetics industry as well as the detergents and cleaners industry with a product portfolio the includes surfactants, emulsifiers, emollients, chelating agents and cosmetic active ingredients (photo courtesy BASF).

Palm-based ingredients are used for cosmetic products, detergents and cleaning agents as well as foodstuffs and according to BASF, the majority of oil palm components used by the company are based on palm kernel oil (PKO) and its derivatives and to a lesser extent palm oil.

Primarily produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, palm cultivation has been linked to deforestation, loss of biodiversity and social conflicts in the producing countries. Initiatives such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) seeks to address this through sustainability certification

The decision by BASF to offer palm-based specialties only as certified in line with RSPO ‘Mass Balance’ standard is the latest move in the company’s initiative ‘Time for Change’. The company has made a commitment to switch about 330 palm-based products to ‘Mass Balance’ standard in the course of 2018 globally.

This is an important milestone for the cosmetics industry’s progress towards sustainable palm – and some of our customers have already made the step, said Xavier Susterac, Senior Vice President BASF Personal Care Europe.

‘Mass Balance’ (MB) is one of the RSPO supply chain models that foster the physical flow of certified raw materials within the oleo-derivatives supply chain and BASF has committed itself to source only RSPO-certified sustainable PKO by 2020.

However, currently less than 20 percent of the global supply of palm-based oils is available as certified sustainable. In the “difficult” market environment of 2017, BASF purchased 153 000 tonnes of RSPO-certified PKO and says that it has made significant progress regarding traceability.

By enhancing our IT processes, we are making it easier for our customers to change to MB ingredients, said Isabella Tonaco, who is responsible for Global Sustainability Palm Products at BASF.

In 2017, the company was able to trace almost 80 percent of its overall oil palm exposure of more than half a million tonnes. The certified sustainable oil is 100 percent traceable and originates from 204 oil mills in Indonesia and Malaysia compared to 128 mills in 2016, according to the company’s second Palm Progress Report.

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