Major skincare companies linked to the destruction of tropical rainforests

Some of the biggest brands in skincare including Clarins, Estée Lauder and Superdrug, as well as 'ethical' brands Jason skin-care and Avalon skin-care, have today been criticised over links to deforestation.

Environmental campaigners have condemned the companies following the publication of a new survey which links them to the destruction of tropical rainforests.

Carried out by the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) and Ethical Consumer magazine, more than 25 of the UK’s biggest skincare companies were surveyed on their use of palm oil or its derivatives, a key cosmetic ingredient.

The companies products were ranked on a scoring system of one to 20, with 20 being the best score. Companies that do not use palm oil or their derivatives score 20, while those that use it but make no substantial policy statements and are not members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil score zero.

Many of the industry’s top names feature at the bottom of the list, with Estée Lauder scoring two, and Clarins and Superdrug both achieving scores of zero.

The RFUK said it has carried out the survey in response to the increasing threat that unsustainable palm oil is posing to the world’s rainforests, and consequently, to the people that rely on the forests.

RFUK executive director Simon Counsell, said: “Today we call on these companies to face up to their environmental responsibilities, reduce their use of palm oil, and help ensure the long-term survival of the Congo rainforest, its people and unique wildlife.”

Ethical Consumer researcher Leonie Nimmo added: “The ugly truth is that whilst companies such as Clarins and Estée Lauder are involved in the beauty business, their products are implicated in some of the biggest acts of environmental destruction in the world.”

In response to the criticism, an Estée Lauder spokesperson told edie: “The Estée Lauder Companies are committed to the responsible sourcing of palm oil. We are members of the Natural Resources Stewardship Circle (NRSC), which is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

“The NRSC is working towards finding sustainable sources of palm oil and palm kernel oil derivatives for the cosmetic industry. We recognise there are varying approaches to achieve palm oil traceability and sustainability. We engage with our suppliers and non-governmental organisations to find sustainable solutions to palm oil sourcing”.

At the time of publishing, Clarins and Superdrug were unavailable for comment.

Leigh Stringer

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