Sustainable Land Use
Sustainable cultivation of raw materials
Natural raw materials are a key element in the development of our product formulations. We work hard to avoid environmental pollution or damage caused either by our sourcing or the use of these raw materials. Our goal is therefore to source our main renewable raw materials such as palm (kernel) oil derivatives, soy, and paper from more sustainable sources by 2025. We also want to procure these main raw materials from deforestation-free sources by 2025. To support this objective, “Sustainable Land Use” is firmly anchored in our Sustainability Agenda as a focus field. When it comes to palm-based raw materials and paper-based packaging, we have had sustainability programs in place for many years. Similar programs for soy are currently under development.
Within Beiersdorf we cooperate with colleagues from various specialist departments including Procurement, Research & Development (R&D), Quality and Supply Chain to implement our programs for sustainably certified raw materials and packaging worldwide. In addition, the Sustainability Council is regularly updated on progress and involved in strategy workshops. This input is important so that we can continuously develop our programs and monitor the achievement of our goals.
Palm (kernel) oil derivatives
Palm (kernel) oil derivatives are an important raw material for our cosmetics and body care products; they are processed substances based on palm (kernel) oil. Essential ingredients such as emulsifiers and surfactants are obtained from this and other vegetable or mineral oils and corresponding derivatives. Beiersdorf does not source palm oil directly for production, but uses its derivatives. Our total demand for palm (kernel) oil derivatives was roughly 35,000 tons in 2022.
Palm (kernel) oil is a highly efficient renewable resource, as the oil palm has a yield per unit area that is almost five times higher than that of other plants such as coconut, rapeseed, or sunflower1. This makes the cultivation of palm oil attractive, but at the same time usually leads to the progressive destruction of rain forests. Our aim is to prevent this deforestation worldwide.
Through certification, transparency, and long-term change, we aim to identify and minimize environmental and social risks along the supply chain of palm (kernel) oil-based raw materials. Our “Palm Sustainability Roadmap” and “Sustainable Palm Policy” guide our worldwide commitment toward achieving more sustainable raw materials procurement while also improving the working conditions of local farmers, for instance. To achieve our goals, we pursue various approaches:
We have achieved our goal of using 100% sustainably certified palm (kernel) oil and its derivatives by the end of 20202. This means that we only use palm-based raw materials from sustainable sources in our products according to the mass-balance model established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
According to this model, products can be certified that contain both RSPO-certified and non-certified palm oil. In this context, companies must ensure that the processed quantity of RSPO-certified palm oil corresponds to the purchased quantity of certified palm oil. This option is particularly relevant to the use of palm (kernel) oil-based derivatives, as the derivative supply chains are multi-level and therefore highly complex. Therefore, there is no infrastructure for an RSPO-segregated supply chain, i.e., a supply chain in which RSPO-certified and non-certified derivatives are traded separately.
Our goal is to procure our palm (kernel) oil derivatives from deforestation-free sources by 2025.
Supply chain transparency
The derivatives supply chain involves a large number of different parties. We do not purchase palm (kernel) oil directly, but rather its derivatives from supplier companies and therefore have only limited influence on the upstream supply chain.
Nevertheless, we want to be able to trace the origin of our raw materials back to the level of refineries, mills and plantations, which is why we are a founding member of the cross-industry Action for Sustainable Derivatives (ASD) initiative, which has been in place since 2019. The ASD’s aim is to increase the transparency and sustainability of derivatives supply chains. To achieve this, the initiative contacts our direct suppliers and requests information on their upstream supply chain and palm oil quantities, among other things. In this way, the ASD works steadily upwards through the entire palm oil supply chain. The aim of this annual tracking of our raw materials is to increase transparency in our palm (kernel) oil supply chain, identify “hot spots,” and provide targeted support for local projects.
Sustainable transformation in cultivation regions
We conduct activities directly in the regions where palm oil is cultivated in order to improve the local working and living conditions of smallholder farmers over the long term and to protect the environment. Our goal is to support these farmers and their cooperatives in transitioning to sustainable oil palm cultivation without further deforestation that can improve both their income and living conditions.
For example, since mid-2018 we have been collaborating with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on a project in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Here we are supporting a total of three villages with a population of around 4,500 inhabitants, including 240 smallholder farmers. We completed the first phase of the project in the 2022 reporting year, and have extended it by further four years. The next step is to certify the smallholder farmers according to the RSPO standard by 2026.
We have also been implementing a sustainable landscape project in Sabah, Malaysia together with the WWF and our supplier Evonik since 2020. The goal of this project is to make the production of palm oil more sustainable and to halt deforestation. The goal here is to have small and medium-sized farmers growing palm oil on a total area of 20,000 hectares of land certified according to the RSPO standard by 2025.
In addition to the aforementioned projects, we are also supporting a project carried out by the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil (FONAP) in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Shea butter is another important ingredient in many of our products, which is why Beiersdorf has been a member of the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) since 2019. We work with the GSA and our shea supply companies in the sometimes very poor rural regions of what is known as the “shea belt” – the main cultivation region in Africa. Our aim is to support a total of 10,000 shea collectors there over the next five years. For example, we are supporting them in Ghana and Burkina Faso and training them in the areas of health, occupational safety, product quality, and business know-how. So far, more than 4,000 women have participated in the training seminars. In this process, shea collectors learn, for example, how to build more energy-efficient cookstoves using local materials such as termite sand to pretreat the shea kernels. They can also use these more economical stoves to cook for themselves. Up until now, the women have mostly used simple three-stone stoves fueled by firewood, which are two and a half times less efficient. The new stoves can reduce the need for firewood and the associated emissions.
In addition, we intend to plant 10,000 shea trees locally by 2024 in order to help fight climate change, because the trees bind carbon dioxide and can counteract desertification.
We use paper or cardboard for many of our product packaging solutions. We also want to procure this natural resource from sustainable sources. To this end, we established a Sustainable Paper and Cardboard Policy in 2018 with the goal of using 100% recycled or sustainably certified paper and cardboard materials that meet the FSC® standard worldwide by the end of 2020. This goal has been partially achieved, for example in the case of primary packaging materials. Since the end of 2020, we have been sourcing 100% of our folding cartons, which we use, for example, as outer packaging for facial creams, as well as all blister cards we use – such as the cardboard packaging parts for lip balm sticks – and all enclosed information leaflets from FSC®-certified material. We were unfortunately unable to achieve our target for other forms of paper packaging, such as shipping cartons and other sales materials, in all regions by the end of 2020; in these cases, we remain committed to switching to FSC®-certified or recycled paper.
1 FONAP www.forumpalmoel.org/en/welcome.
2 Including La Prairie and STOP THE WATER WHILE USING ME!