I recently used your olive oil soap and liked it very much. However at the point of sale there was no ingredients list so I checked out your website, and read that you use palm oil. Is this sustainable palm oil? Are you aware of the destruction the "harvesting" of unsustainable palm oil causes in Indonesia? We may lose the orangutan and many other species because of this practice, amongst other issues including the destruction of ancient rainforests.
For the past three years, I have boycotted using products containing unsustainable palm oil, or palm oil from unspecified sources. I would like to continue using your products, but am unable to do so until I receive a satisfactory response from you on this issue.
I have been buying Soap Works bar soaps for some time now, but I've recently become concerned about the use of palm oil in them. It seems that palm oil production is associated with significant environmental problems in the developing world. Can you tell me if Soap Works is planning to address this issue? I know this kind of thing poses a challenge for small businesses, but I feel it's important to deal with it.
Dear Kate and Hanah,
We forwarded your enquiries to our principal oil supplier. They confirmed that they source all their palm oil from Fuji Oil, who provided the following information:
Fuji Vegetable Oil, Inc. is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (www.rspo.org). To be successful in the long run, palm oil must be sustainable. The Fuji Oil Group believes that the RSPO is the best vehicle for developing and promoting best practices in the palm oil industry. Membership in the RSPO covers all stakeholders in palm, from the plantation owners to end consumers to NGOs. We advise all of our customers who are concerned with the sustainability of palm to join the RSPO.
My understanding is that Fuji Oil has been a member of RSPO since 2004. This issue caught us completely unawares. We suspect that it arose quickly, due to the run-up in fossil fuel prices topping off at $146 US per barrel by July 2008. At that price, energy alternatives, such as biofuels, dramatically increased the demand for palm oil and other similar materials. At Soap Works, we try to be conscious of Earth-friendly issues, even the ones that we don't see first-hand, and we are fortunate to have a conscientious and reputable supplier for our base oils.