Avon Joins Sustainable Palm Oil Movement With Earth Day Pledge

Avon Joins Sustainable Palm Oil Movement With Earth Day Pledge

Underlying image CC licensed by Flickr user a_rabin

Avon Products will celebrate Earth Day 2011 with a new commitment to purchase 100 percent sustainable palm oil.

The cosmetics company has pledged to buy enough GreenPalm certificates to cover all of its global palm oil use. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has endorsed GreenPalm, a certificate trading program that offers a financial premium to farmers who prove they've produced their palm oil in ways that don't harm forests, people or the environment.

Palm oil production, particularly in Southeast Asia, has garnered increasing attention in recent years because of its social and environmental impacts, namely deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. The RSPO was formed to address these problems.

According to GreenPalm, farmers certified by the RSPO may receive a certificate for every tonne of palm oil they produce through sustainable means. Companies that buy the certificates don't literally get to use the underlying tonne of palm oil, but the purchases do promote and increase demand for sustainable production.

That's because sustainably sourced palm oil is not available in a separate supply than conventionally produced palm oil. The supplies from different plantations and regions are co-mingled at each stage of the process.

"Under normal circumstances it is therefore impossible for palm oil purchasers to know exactly where their oil has come from and how it has been produced," GreenPalm said on its website.

Avon isn't a significant user of palm oil, the majority of which is used in food products, but said its commitment nonetheless makes it the first major beauty company to make such a commitment, which is part of its 2011 Hello Green Tomorrow initiatives. Avon is launching a Hello Green Tomorrow global fundraising program to support both The Nature Conservancy's efforts to restore the Atlantic Rain Forest in South America and the World Wildlife Fund for its work in the tropical forests of Indonesia.

Other companies that have committed to sustainable palm oil include Kellogg's, Walmart, General Mills, Seventh Generation, Unilever, Nestle, Cadbury, among others.

Underlying image CC licensed by Flickr user a_rabin.