I checked through the products being sold by Biome prior to calling Tracey back.
As I listened to Tracey explain to me that she understood POI’s importance, her concern about the impacts of palm oil destruction plus her desire to have Biome eco stores POI approved.
I listened carefully to this lovely woman on the other end of the phone before responding. “As much as I would love to say yes Tracey, we just can’t.” I explained that I had looked through the store and found many products which would not pass our approval and would need to be removed. “I am prepared to do that.” Was the reply.
It would have been easy for me to take the hard stance and tell Tracey to just remove a heap of stock from her stores. It would be easy for some to place their own interests first. But it would be irresponsible of me to not warn of the impact that may have on her stock, and in turn her sales and business.
I explained my concern if that were to occur. It would not be a few products that would have to be removed, it would be many. I suggested that I write up a report on the products currently stocked and asked her to think about it carefully.
Tracey got back to me after reading the report. “We are going to do it. Someone needs to take a stand on this issue and have made the decision that it’s going to be us”. I thought to myself…. WOW, this is a big decision for this company. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Yes." she answered.
Ok then lets roll......
People need to understand that palm oil free personal care, cosmetic and cleaning products are quite rare. The reason is, it is near impossible to manufacture entire ranges without using palm derived ingredients. I have lost count of the number of times we have come across false palm oil free claims which are rife in the industry and throughout online stores stocking various personal care brands claiming palm oil free status. These false claims by personal care brands are also causing frustration for the small businesses that ARE in fact palm oil free. This is the main reason why we launched POI approved.
In many cases, it’s not deliberate deception. It’s more a case of these brands not knowing how to trace the ingredients and taking a suppliers word that there is no palm oil. However, there is a specific process that needs to be followed to ensure that the products are in fact palm oil free, and it’s not as easy as one may think.
Here it is
For each ingredient used there needs to be a written statement from the actual manufacturer of that ingredient which requires specific wording. The statement must be on letterhead and signed off. The wording must state that they 100% guarantee that no palm has been used anywhere in the manufacturing process from start to end of the finished product. For complex ingredients, sometimes this will require an accompanying flow chart. The statement must not include wording such as ‘best to our knowledge’ or ‘at the time of writing this statement’ or ‘we will not be held liable for the accuracy of the statement’ or ‘does not contain palm oil (as the finished product doesn’t contain the actual oil, it is a derivative of the oil).’ It is important to remember, these signed off statements make the manufacturers of these ingredients legally liable. No statement = no palm oil free claim should be made.
When POI receives a statement that a brand has given us from a supplier or manufacturer, we will often contact that manufacturer to check that it is in fact their wording and signature. Harsh but necessary.
Biome had a big task ahead of them and had to follow our instructions, this is what happened. Some brands found their products actually did contain palm derived ingredients without their knowledge, much to their dismay. Some brands unable to supply the required statements and some flat out refusing to.
Get ready for the results folks. Here it is....
Hence the chain reaction has begun. Many products and brands that have been removed are now looking closely into their ingredients. Brands that had only one or two products with palm are now reformulating with our assistance, they will also become POI approved once the process is complete. Brands that are truly palm oil free are making their way into the biome stores as replacement stock, to fill the gaps where products have been removed. How fabulous is that!
It is with great pleasure that we announce that Biome eco stores are now POI approved
We have allowed one brand to remain which contains palm oil being Dr Bronner’s. Purely because their supply is fair trade, traceable and ethical. Refer here.
We need to make clear that in a few cases there are only part of a brands range stocked on Biome due to palm content or suspect ingredients in a few of their other products. So please do not assume that if you see a full range stocked elsewhere that all products by that brand are palm oil free. Biome have made this clear on their website. It’s only biome at this point in time where we can guarantee that all products (except for Dr. Bronner’s) are completely palm oil free. All personal care, cosmetics, cleaning products and food items will be checked by POI prior to making their way into the Biome stores. We are pleased to say that POI will be working closely with Biome for the long term.
A statement from Tracey Bailey – Founder and CEO
Biome's mission is to help consumers be a force for good in the world. We know the palm oil industry is causing catastrophic deforestation, animal cruelty and deaths. So, as a genuinely ethical store, we can no longer sell products that use palm oil derivatives.
After 14 years of avoiding palm oil and taking assurances about "sustainable palm" use, we were not seeing any real changes. Palm oil is almost always hidden from consumers, and very few brands are taking responsibility for the destructive effect of the palm they use.
This is a huge step for our business, but POI's guidance made it possible. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the POI volunteers for their incredible tenacity to help save the orangutans.
Biome is now exclusively supporting brands that go to extra lengths to be free from palm such as Mokosh, Evohe and Clean Conscience, with the exception of Dr Bronner's ethical palm.
Plastic in the oceans receives a lot of attention at the moment, but what is happening due to palm oil is disastrous. We are causing the extinction of a species that is our closest living relative, so that we can clean our homes with manufactured formulas and wear makeup. We have to stop.
Finally. A statement from POI
Welcome to POI approved Tracey and team. We admire your risky and bold move. For all the people out there that are seeking palm oil free products. We are proud to say that you can now
SHOP Biome for all things ethical and enjoy.