04/17/2008, Düsseldorf / Germany


Helping to promote sustainable oil palm cultivation

Henkel now an official member of the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”

For decades, Henkel has been an active proponent of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This includes committing to the use of renewable raw materials and promoting resource conservation. Whenever palm oil is in discussion, reference is constantly made to the felling of the rainforests. It is the mission of the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” (RSPO) to ensure that commercialized palm oil satisfies certain key sustainability criteria. Right from the start, Henkel has supported this process, participating in meetings and contributing its expert knowledge to the ensuing debate. As a visible symbol of this engagement, Henkel joined the international RSPO as an official member in April 2008.

 “Henkel has been involved in the Roundtable process right from the start; and now, with our official membership, we are sending out a clear signal that we intend to further support the sustainable oil palm cultivation policy,” explained Dr. Wolfgang Gawrisch, CTO Research/Technology and Chairman of the Sustainability Council at Henkel.

The “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” was created on the initiative of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Initially, it took the form of an informal collaboration between a number of companies and the WWF, embarked upon in 2002. Today, the initiative has over 200 members, including palm oil producers, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The RSPO was founded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in August 2003. Two hundred participants from sixteen countries – including a delegation from Henkel – attended the inaugural meeting. The RSPO’s headquarters is in Zurich and its secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur. The members meet once a year, with working group meetings also taking place on an ad hoc basis. For Henkel, Dr. Roland Schröder, Director of Sustainability in the Laundry & Home Care business sector, is our permanent member on the Roundtable.

The mission of the RSPO is to promote and monitor sustainable oil palm cultivation and palm oil production. To this end, specific certification procedures are being prepared in order to enable the identification of palm oil that has been produced under sustainable conditions – i.e. with a due degree of social and ecological compatibility.

Henkel itself does not produce, purchase or process palm oil. It does, however, utilize – indirectly via its surfactant suppliers – palm kernel oil in particular. This occurs as a by-product of palm oil production. In all, Henkel’s volumes make up less than 0.2 percent of the total amount of palm and palm kernel oil produced worldwide. Nevertheless, the company sees it as its duty to contribute its experience and expertise in the common search for sustainable solutions, hence its active support of the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil” initiative since its establishment in 2003.
The surfactants used by Henkel are based on raw materials from various sources. Some of them are derived from palm kernel oil, which is extracted from the kernels of the fruit, and to a very small extent from palm oil. As only a limited amount of palm kernel oil can be incorporated in food products, it is used almost exclusively for industrial applications. Henkel also pursues its sustainability strategy in regard to raw materials based on palm kernel oil by working together with raw material suppliers to identify and assess additional improvement options with regard to sustainability aspects.

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA

Head of Corporate Communications
Ernst Primosch, Corporate Vice President