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Promoting sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil

Responding to the palm oil challenge 

At Henkel, we recognize our responsibilities regarding the ingredients based on renewable raw materials that we buy and use in our products. Palm oil and palm kernel oil are high-profile examples: Palm oil comes from the flesh of the palm fruit and is an important raw material for the food industry – it represents 90 percent of the plantation yield. Palm kernel oil is extracted from the seeds of the palm fruit and is less used for the food industry because of its chemical structure. It accounts for the remaining 10 percent of the plantation yield. We use ingredients based on these materials in many of our products – the majority is surfactants based on palm kernel oil, which are active washing substances in our detergent and cosmetic products. Whenever a product builds foam to dissolve grease and dirt, you can assume that the product contains surfactants.

Palm-related materials are extremely versatile, and the oil palm tree is much more productive than other vegetable crops in terms of yield per hectare. However, it does present some key challenges: The palm oil industry has been linked to negative impacts on the environment, as well as on people living and working in communities affected by its activities.

Companies face challenges when aiming to make sure the palm oil materials they buy have been produced through sustainable practices, because the palm oil value chain is long and often complex –and even more complex when it comes to palm kernel oil. Large numbers of smallholder farmers grow the crop on plantations, before the fruit bunches are transported to mills to be processed into crude oil, which is then taken to refineries to be processed again. At the same time, palm fruit seeds from different plantations are taken to mills to be processed together, as this enables mills to operate at their full capacity. Materials from different sources are mixed during these processing stages, as well as during the transport stages that connect processing locations around the world. Henkel is responding to the challenges that this complexity creates by working together with partners at every stage in the value chain to drive progress toward achieving sustainable practices right across the entire palm oil industry.

Supporting sustainable practices

Our approach to supporting sustainable practices along the entire palm oil value chain is built around a set of specific targets that focus our efforts on key challenges. Our three targets for 2020 are:

  • Cover 100 percent of our demand for palm oil and palm kernel oil with RSPO Mass Balance certified oils.
  • Establish full traceability of the palm oil, palm kernel oil and derivatives we buy to known sources – first to the mill and then to the plantation.
  • Increase the supply of sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil on the global market by a volume equal to Henkel’s demand through collaborative projects that support smallholder farmers.

Collaboration is at the heart of our approach to achieving these targets. We strengthen the impact of our contribution by engaging in partnerships, projects and dialog with key players from across the palm oil industry, ranging from our suppliers through to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and smallholder farmers.


Achieving progress

In 2016, around 50 percent of the palm oil, palm kernel oil and derivatives used in our products was certified according to the RSPO’s Mass Balance model. This certification model includes criteria that support our commitment to ensuring that the palm materials we use do not contribute to deforestation, as well as requirements that focus on respecting the rights of people who work in the palm oil industry or live in communities directly impacted by its activities.

We were also able to trace around 60 percent of the palm materials we used in 2016 back to the mill they were processed in. By working together with our suppliers – as well as other partners along the value chain – we are continuing to foster increased traceability of palm oil and palm kernel oil, and improving transparency along the supply chain.

By September 2016, we had already confirmed partnerships that increased the supply of sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil on the global market by a volume equal to our total expected demand for these materials in 2016 – with more projects planned worldwide. We achieved this through collaborative projects that provide smallholder farmers with training in efficient farming methods, health and safety, and environmental and social impact management. Farmers are also shown how to make sure their produce complies with sustainable palm oil certification criteria, such as those from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This increases the volume of sustainable palm oil available on the market without the need to increase the amount of land used to grow the crop – and raises farmers’ incomes by giving them access to new markets.

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???gallery.open.slideshow??? Henkel is actively engaged in projects and partnerships that support smallholder palm oil farmers worldwide in driving sustainable practices.

Henkel is actively engaged in projects and partnerships that support smallholder palm oil farmers worldwide in driving sustainable practices.

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The approach aims to empower farmers to increase productivity and protect the environment.

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Farmers receive training in efficient and sustainable farming methods, as well as health and safety.

???gallery.open.slideshow??? Palm oil farmers are also shown how to make sure their produce complies with sustainable palm oil certification criteria – which can open up global markets and help improve farmers’ incomes.

They are also shown how to make sure their produce complies with sustainable palm oil certification criteria – which can open up global markets and help improve farmers’ incomes.

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The approach aims to drive Henkel’s progress toward its target of increasing the supply of sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil available on the market by a volume equal to Henkel’s demand in 2020.

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It is just one part of Henkel’s commitment to engaging in partnerships that drive concrete change on the ground – and ensure a future where only sustainably produced palm oil and palm kernel oil is available on the market.

Driving transformation

Henkel aims to help change the entire palm oil market so that only sustainably produced palm oil and palm kernel oil is available. To achieve this, we are focused on driving physical progress in sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil, and making a positive impact on both the environment and the people affected by the industry. We believe it will only be possible to find solutions for sustainable palm oil products by working with partners from across industries around the world. You can find more information on our activities for sustainable palm oil on our website and in our sustainability report.

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2/6/17

Sustainable palm oil

In a three-year program, Henkel supported smallholder farmers in Honduras, who have increased yields by 25 percent and produced 500,000 tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil.

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Three questions to...

... Christine Schneider 

Christine Schneider, Senior Manager Global Sustainability for Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care business unit, plays a central role in establishing Henkel’s activities to support smallholder palm oil farmers. 

Christine Schneider, Senior Manager Global Sustainability at Henkel Laundry & Home Care.


What is the aim of Henkel’s activities supporting smallholder palm oil farmers?
It’s about going beyond buying certified palm oil: We want to drive concrete change on the ground by joining forces with a variety of partners to directly support the farmers who grow oil palm fruit on small farms around the world. Small farms produce around 40 percent of the world’s palm oil, but productivity on independent farms is estimated to be 40 percent lower than it is on the average large farm. By empowering smallholders to increase productivity, we aim to increase the global supply of sustainably-cultivated palm oil and palm kernel oil without increasing the amount of land used to grow the crop. We also aim to improve living and working conditions for people in the farming community, protect forests, and raise farmers’ incomes. Ultimately, we want to help change the market so that only sustainably produced palm oil and palm kernel oil is available in the future. That’s why we have set ourselves the target of increasing the supply of sustainable oil available on the market by a volume equal to Henkel’s demand in 2020.

How much progress has been made so far?
We have already made substantial progress, and we have ambitious plans for the future. In June 2016, we successfully completed a three-year project in Honduras that reached over 17,500 small farmers across 80 percent of the country’s palm oil cropland. The participants were able to increase yields by 25 percent, and produced 500,000 tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil. They received training in efficient and sustainable farming methods, as well as health and safety, and were also shown how to make sure their produce complies with sustainable palm oil certification criteria, such as those from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The project was launched together with the international development organization Solidaridad, as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), SNV Netherlands Development Organization and the Proforest Initiative in Honduras. This project is an example how partnerships can drive success in supporting sustainable palm oil. 

What are the next steps?
Our next steps will involve expanding our existing activities – together with our partners. We expect to regularly enter into new partnerships alongside our existing projects in Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria. It’s important to note that in September 2016 we had already identified and confirmed partnerships that will increase the supply of sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil available on the global market by a volume equal to Henkel’s total expected demand in 2016. This was an important milestone on the journey toward our 2020 target, and demonstrates the potential impact of our activities. Moving forward, we believe it will only be possible to continue to drive progress in sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil by working with partners from across industries around the world – and including smallholders in this transformation process.