The Little-Known Logo For Sustainable Palm Oil You Should Be Looking For On Your Beauty Products
If there's one phrase we can't avoid in 2019, it's palm oil.
So it's no wonder we're all trying to avoid it - a hard feat considering palm oil is found in 50 per cent of consumer goods, and 70 per cent of all beauty products. The odds seem against us.
However, there is hope for those of us looking to lessen our environmental impact: 20 per cent of palm oil globally is certified as sustainable. Yet as consumers, it's hard to know which products contain this 'good' palm oil, the 'bad' palm oil, and which ones don't include it at all (the dream).
Other industries have instantly-recognisable badges for sustainable and ethical causes - such as the Fairtrade badge for working conditions and the RSPCA badge for animal welfare - which are slapped on to our products to indicate if they check out. But the same can't be said for the palm oil industry.
However, there is a logo to be looking out for - you just might not recognise it yet.
The logo comes from the Round Table On Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the official body on sustainable palm oil, and features a green palm tree and the body's name in orange, though it might feature in all black on certain products.
Sadly, as per upcoming BBC Three documentary Unmasked: Make-up's Big Secret, which gives a shocking look into palm oil production, the logo rarely makes it on to our cosmetics labels.
"Unlike, for instance, some of the coffee companies that are rainforest alliance accredited or some of the tea producers, they can stick the badge on, and everybody has comfort that's come from a sustainable source," says Jamie Graham, CEO of New Britain Palm Oil, the world's leading producer of sustainable palm oil. Adding: "With our industry that doesn't happen, and that disconnects a very big problem."
The documentary follows makeup artist Emmy Burbidge as she seeks to find out where palm oil comes from and how it is made after an increasing interest from her clients about whether her products contain it.
She meets locals from the area who signed unfulfilled agreements with big oil companies who promised them a big lump of money and improved homes and schools to harvest palm oil on their land.
Emmy also meets the companies who are producing palm oil sustainably, responsible for 20 per cent of the world's palm oil. Despite this, huge beauty companies who use it still don't even want the ingredient on their packaging due to the negative connotations.
In the documentary, Emmy speaks to the Head of Sustainability at L'Oreal, who tells her sustainable palm oil is the best option for the future of cosmetics.
So what can you do to ensure you aren't adding to the problem?
Firstly, you should avoid buying products from companies that still use unsustainable palm oil. These can be found by a quick look at the ingredients list - just look out for 'palm' in one iteration or another. If these products don't have the RSPO logo on them, to indicate sustainable produce, don't buy them.
It's worth noting there is another version of the RSPO logo to look out for: the 'mixed' version.
According to the RSPO website, this indicates the product is "RSPO-certified using the Mass Balance (MB) supply chain system", meaning sustainable palm oil has been identified in the chain, however it is mixed with conventional palm oil.
RSPO says: "The purchase of this product does advance the production of sustainable palm oil, but for practical or economic reasons, the sustainable oil itself may have ended up elsewhere," due to the long and complex supply chain.
Additionally, if you'd prefer zero ambiguity in your purchasing, then we've rounded up the beauty products the don't contain any palm oil at all.
Unmasked: Make-up's Big Secret is available to watch on iPlayer now.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels