Palm Oil

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Palm Oil

We are committed to responsible sourcing of palm oil and are working with suppliers, communities and knowledgeable organizations to find sustainable solutions to palm oil sourcing.


Palm oil, the most widely used vegetable oil, is a globally traded agricultural commodity used in approximately half of all consumer goods, such as packaged foods and personal care products, as well as biofuels. It is extracted from the fruit pulp of the oil palm. Palm kernel oil (PKO) is derived from the kernel or the pit of the oil palm fruit.

Palm oil is very popular for a number of reasons:

  • It remains stable at high temperatures
  • It has a smooth and creamy texture and it does not smell
  • It has a natural preservative effect which extends the shelf life of products
  • It needs less than half the land required by other crops to produce the same amount of oil, making it the least expensive vegetable oil in the world

Increasing demand for palm oil has had measurable environmental and social impacts, including deforestation, habitat destruction and biodiversity loss.

Simply replacing palm oil with other vegetable oils is not viable, as that would require more land, and would likely lead to even greater deforestation. In addition, in palm oil producing countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, millions of farmers and their families depend on work in this industry.

Industry Response

There are a number of ways to impact palm oil sourcing including: protected areas, land use planning, responsible sourcing, laws and policies and consumer choice. Since 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a nonprofit organization that unites stakeholders from the palm oil industry, has been working to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

Our Point of View

The personal care products industry represents less than 1% of global palm oil usage. While we at The Estée Lauder Companies are a comparatively low-volume user of palm oil, palm fruit oil, palm kernel oil (PKO) and PKO derivatives, we are sensitive to the issues and complexities surrounding its sustainable production and traceability.

As a result of our ongoing commitment to support sustainable palm oil sourcing, we have developed the following enhanced actions and goals for our Company:

  • We have adopted a no deforestation policy, which requires our high-volume suppliers to ensure that they prohibit new clearing or palm development on High Carbon Stock (HCS), High Conservation Value (HCV) forests and peat lands* or the use of fire for the preparation of new planting or replanting. High-volume suppliers are sources from which we purchase greater than 50 tons annually of Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) and PKO derived ingredients. We are working with our high-volume suppliers to ensure they are indeed complying with our no deforestation policy.
  • As members of RSPO, we will seek to purchase our high volume PKO and PKO derivative ingredients from certified sustainable sources and from suppliers that can demonstrate their compliance with the RSPO Principles and Criteria, including responsible consideration of affected employees, individuals and communities, encompassing social impact assessments, contributing to local sustainable development where appropriate and respecting human rights. We will work collaboratively with our high volume suppliers to support and establish source traceability.
  • Until we are able to purchase 100% PKO derivative ingredients traceable to known and certified sources, we will annually purchase Green Palm Certificates to offset the use of non-sustainable PKO derived ingredients that we procure directly. Green Palm is a certificate trading program, which contributes toward more sustainable palm oil products.
  • We will map the supply chain for our high-volume palm oil, PKO, and PKO derived ingredient suppliers and assess the sourcing policies and practices of these key suppliers.
  • We will annually report on our progress.

We remain committed to acting responsibly and will continue to work with our suppliers, industry partners and other like-minded organizations to find the best ways to encourage and support the development of sustainable palm oil production.

*As defined by the High Conservation Value Resource Network:

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