Palm oil has been used in soap making for thousands of years beginning in ancient Babylon – and when we examine its characteristics it’s easy to understand why! It creates a hard, cleansing bar of soap with a fluffy lather that gently moisturizes the skin. When palm is combined with olive oil or coconut oil (like in all Badger soaps), the result is smooth, effortless cleansing that leaves skin soft – not squeaky and oil-depleted. Badger’s goal is to produce the safest, most effective products for our customers, and because palm oil is a large part of why Badger soaps are so glorious, we knew we had to find a way to source it responsibly and sustainably.
Despite its many benefits, palm oil is perhaps Badger’s most controversial ingredient. Worldwide concerns regarding palm oil include deforestation, land conflicts, violations of workers’ rights, emission of greenhouse gases, and endangerment of local wildlife. So how does palm oil fit into Badger’s philosophy of formulation if palm harvests are not always ecologically and socially responsible?
Fortunately, there are third-party certifications for palm oil that provide supply chain transparency and ensure against the adverse impacts listed above. First is the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In 2008, RSPO developed a set of environmental and social criteria that palm oil suppliers must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When these criteria are applied to palm harvests, negative consequences of the oil production can be minimized. The harvests of the palm oil in Badger’s bar soaps and shave soap are overseen by RSPO, so we can feel confident that our rigorous ingredient standards are met.
Another regulation that mitigates many palm harvest concerns is the USDA organic standard. All USDA certified organic ingredients, including Badger’s palm oil, are put under intense scrutiny to guarantee that safe and respectful agricultural practices are being followed. The USDA traces each ingredient’s life cycle from production to processing and handling. Specifically, they look for conformity in the following areas: natural resource and biodiversity conservation, animal health and welfare, and prohibited substance testing (i.e., conventional pesticides and GMOs). Every year, all USDA-certified operations – including Badger – are audited for compliance of the organic standard. This assessment includes inspection of organic facilities and documentation (“organic systems plan”), as well as supply chain analysis and labeling compliance. Failure to meet USDA’s requirements for the organic standard will result in financial penalties, suspension or revocation of an operation’s organic certificate, or other implementation of enforcement actions.
Badger purchases organic palm oil from two suppliers: Ciranda for the bar soaps, and Stephenson for the Shave Soap. Both of these vendors are certified by RSPO, and Ciranda’s Palm is RSPO IP certified which is the highest level of product available through the RSPO. Ciranda and Stephenson are fantastic partners for Badger due to their pledges to respect and preserve ecosystems, safe working practices, and indigenous populations living near palm plantations. Badger applauds our certified organic and socially responsible suppliers – without them, we wouldn’t be able to share our products with the world!
What do you think of palm oil? Continue the discussion in the comments below!