Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil in the world, a $61 billion global industry, and can be found in soaps, shampoos, and makeup, as well as many common foodstuffs. Despite a growing consumer awareness and pledges from brands and governments to stop using “conflict palm oil,” less than 20% of palm oil is certified sustainable and, as such, much of its production relies on the destruction of tropical rainforests and its corresponding ecosystems. This deforestation emits half a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year while threatening critical habitats for endangered species, including orangutans, rhinos, and elephants.
Michel Brousset, founder and CEO of Waldencast, said, “Deforestation driven by palm oil production is one of the biggest sustainability challenges created by a single ingredient.”
Waldencast recently invested in C16 Biosciences that has developed a proprietary technology using biomanufacturing, converting food waste and industrial by-products into synthetic palm oil. Unlike the traditional agricultural methods, C16 Biosciences’ low-carbon palm oil substitute does not rely on deforestation or the destruction of natural ecosystems, and due to its “lab grown” origins, it provides a fully traceable, more efficient supply chain.
Numbers according to Waldencast:
- 70% of all personal care products contain palm oil
- Less than 20% of palm oil is certified sustainable
- 50% of all consumer products, in general, contain palm oil
- Production of palm oil is projected to be 75.7 million tons in 2020 and increase to 240 million tons by 2050
- The market value in 2015 was $62.73 billion and projected to be $92.84 billion in 2021
- 10% of global cropland is composed of palm oil plantations, but 85% of the world’s palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia
- 1/2 billion tons of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere due to deforestation driven by the palm oil industry
- Only 10% of common food, home, and personal care products clearly identify palm oil as an ingredient
With concerns for climate change consistently at the top of the news agenda, the need for a truly sustainable alternative to palm oil is clearer than ever.
Photo: Vincent Roll via Unsplash