POI have been researching palm oil and palm derived ingredients for 6 years. We are no amateurs when it comes to this and we are a trusted source of information on palm oil and ingredients derived from the oil.
We get totally frustrated with most online stores selling personal care, cosmetics, skin care, cleaning products etc and listing them as palm oil free when we know for fact that these products contain palm oil derived ingredients. These stores rely on the brands to either write their own statement or tell them that their products are palm oil free. Then advertise them as such. Some of these so-called palm oil free ingredients in these products do not exist. Many of these brands won’t make claims on their own websites as being palm oil free (that in itself should be a red flag for stockists), yet will allow their online retailers to make the claims instead. Absolving the actual brand from legal liability.
One of these stores informed me when I contacted them, that POI don’t know about these ingredients, that until the brands inform them otherwise, the products will remain on their palm oil free list. This retailer also informed me regarding sustainable palm oil, that she had viewed the documentation to back up her claims and I had not, therefore I was wrong and she was right (I write about this a bit further down). I was absolutely gob smacked by this attitude.
Another online store promoting a massive palm oil free product list in their search, informed me over a year ago that palm oil was not something that was really on their radar and something they didn’t really understand (which is fair enough). They admitted that it was likely that many of the products listed as palm oil free may contain palm. However, that extensive list remains on the site where consumers purchase products believing they are palm oil free, when in fact they are not.
These false claims are also doing a massive disservice to brands who are in fact palm oil free. Brands who have been unable to formulate an extensive range of products due to palm free ingredient alternatives not being available. Brands who have spent years reformulating at a huge expense to get the palm oil of their products. These brands are then listed in a palm free category in these stores alongside products containing palm, that have not done the hard yards or been through the frustration of years of formulating at massive cost, yet make the same palm oil free claims as the genuine palm free products. These genuine palm oil free brands need to start calling out these retailers on false claims.
Another thing that we find frustrating with these online stores is the sustainable palm oil claims referring to palm oil derived ingredients in personal care, cosmetics, skin care & cleaning products.
This is another false claim.
Due to the manufacturing process with palm oil supply chains in the oleochemical industry, certified sustainable palm oil derived ingredients currently do not exist. The only supply available is either RSPO credits or Mass Balance which RSPO regulations state they cannot make claim of containing sustainable palm oil. Only that the supply contributes to the production of sustainable palm oil due to the uncertified palm oil content in these supply chains.
It is also against RSPO regulations for any brand to make claim they use sustainable palm oil in their products unless that brand themselves, in their name, have undergone an official RSPO supply chain audit by an approved RSPO auditor and are an RSPO member themselves.
For these stores to state they have viewed the brands sustainable palm oil documentation is impossible. POI have done an extensive search of the RSPO database and on top of that, we have a great relationship with the approved supply chain auditors, so we know what and who is certified sustainable and what and who is not. None of these brands are RSPO members which means that none of them have undergone supply chain audits and none of them should be stating any claim to be using sustainable palm oil. The documents these stores may have viewed would not be in bands name, therefore there is no chain of custody linking these brands ingredients back through the supply chain to the ingredient manufacturers and suppliers.
For the last 2 years, I have worked very closely with Biome Eco Stores and Santos Organics. Training them to detect palm oil in products and how to track the supply to find out if ingredients are in fact palm oil free as claimed by the brands. This is no easy task. So many brands thinking they were initially palm oil free have found out they are not during this process.
I started POI back in March 2013 (6 years ago). This entire time I have worked up to 16 hours per day, seven days per week on a voluntary basis running POI. I have an amazing team of volunteers. All have other employment and give so much of their free time to POI.
For me personally, POI has consumed my entire life. The hours never ease. I have given my all to helping orgs I greatly admire with fundraising and my time, but it has come at a personal cost.
I have never been able to draw any kind of wage and it has been an ongoing struggle for 6 years.
I am a single mother in my 50's with a mortgage and bills to pay and my social life is zero due to the constant work load.
I must make it clear that I love POI, I love what we do and what we have achieved. It’s tiring and often extremely upsetting due to animal abuse and suffering. I love our partner orgs and the wonderful people behind them. They make this world a better place.
After I returned from Borneo for Christmas, I decided to open a palm oil free store. One where all claims of palm oil free were true and correct. A store which could be trusted by our huge network of followers seeking genuine palm oil free products.
In opening a palm oil free store, I had hoped it would allow me to finally draw an income. This added further hours onto my existing. Sourcing stock, buying, meetings with brands, set up, storage, website, inventory, emails & social media. I had not yet gotten to the point of taking orders, packing, postage etc.
I have been upfront and honest with both Biome and Santos Organics regarding my aims to open an online store. Both were extremely supportive and understood my personal situation of working so hard for so long without any income. Tracey Bailey, owner of Biome was so incredibly supportive.
4 days prior to store launch, I was hit with an obstacle which meant I had to delay launching the store for 3 months. I could not continue for this amount of time without income and this caused massive stress for myself and my team of volunteers. So, I approached Biome Eco Stores to offer my services.
I am extremely excited to now formally announce, that I am now a full-time employee with Biome Eco Stores on a permanent basis as Palm Oil Free Category Leader. A silver lining has resulted from a stressful situation.
With the warehousing and infrastructure already in place at Biome Eco Stores, this is the perfect place to incorporate the palm oil free shop and build on their existing catalog of genuine palm oil free products with the aim of making it the biggest and the best one stop shop for palm oil free Skin Care, Cosmetics, Personal Care, Hair Care & Cleaning products in the world.
This now means that POI becomes my second role. I have handed much of the work over to my incredible team of volunteers who are extremely capable, so I am able to step back and shift into my new role. One which I am extremely excited about, one which is not so full of despair, a happy place, one which will allow me to switch off, have a life, spend time with my family and pay the bills. This is a role where I know I will exceed all expectations.
POI will remain independent of Biome. Our relationships with our partner orgs will remain. We will continue fighting the good fight and do all we can to help consumers make ethical choices.
I however, won't be as present as I have been over the last 6 years as I take a huge step back and hand over to my team.
As I will now be building the palm oil free catalog of products at Biome. I think it would be great to share these products with our POI followers who are constantly asking us for those hard to find palm oil free alternatives.
I would love you to all give us the thumbs up on the new page which has been set up to promote the palm oil free store. https://www.facebook.com/palmoilfreeshop/
We look forward to bringing you the most amazing palm oil free products from around the globe for you to purchase and look forward to your support in this wonderful new venture.