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Avon the latest major palm oil user to make zero-deforestation pledge

Cosmetics giant Avon promised today to purge its palm oil supply chain of deforestation and rights abuses, making it the latest in a wave of major producers and consumers of the commodity to do so.

At present, the New York-headquartered company is assessing its sourcing, according to a company statement. Once that’s done – the target for completion is December – it will set about developing an implementation plan with a time-bound commitment for severing its ties with tainted palm oil. The target to publish that is February 2016.

Mature oil palm trees in Indonesia. Photo: Rhett A. Butler

Avon’s new Palm Oil Promise is a significant upgrade over its previous policy, set forth in 2011. That year, Avon joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a voluntary certification scheme that encourages members to adhere to certain standards in their operations but does not prohibit deforestation.

Earlier this year, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) ranked Avon second-to-last among personal care companies on its Palm Oil Scorecard. But the UCS’s Lael Goodman offered tempered praise for the new policy, saying it would increase the demand for deforestation-free palm oil if the company followed through.

“Once Avon announces a timeline for this promise, consumers will be much closer to being able to lather on their Avon, Anew, Skin So Soft and Mark products with the knowledge that the palm oil in these products doesn’t contribute to deforestation and climate change,” Goodman said in a statement.

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