Sustainable palm oil: In conversation with Andrew Jenkins

15 October 2020

Palm oil continues to be a major driver of deforestation, which is destroying the habitats of endangered species and contributing to climate change. Due to the negative impacts sourcing palm oil has on the environment, manufacturers and companies should be looking at more sustainable ways to source the product. WWF have shared the Boots scorecard to assess companies on their commitments and actions necessary to be a responsible user of palm oil.

We spoke to Andrew Jenkins, Sustainability Transformation and Innovation at Boots UK, to learn more about what Boots is doing to build sustainability into a brand’s purpose and strategy. 

Why did Boots decide to support sustainable palm oil?

Since 1995 Boots has been working with WWF as part of the Global Forest & Trade Network, with a long-standing commitment to source sustainable materials for our products. With a wide range of products and raw materials in Boots’ portfolio, it is essential that we can access sustainable sources by collaborative action.

What have been Boots key achievements to date?

In 2006, Boots was one of the first retailers to join the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Boots was also one of the early members of the Retailer Palm Oil Working Group and the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition (POTC).

Has Boots faced any challenges meeting these commitments, and how did you overcome those?

Where consumer products contain palm oil, it is usually in small quantities of derivative-based ingredients, making traceability challenging. To address these challenges, we have:

  • worked closely with ingredients suppliers and product manufacturers to assess the composition of the ingredients we use and promote physical sourcing of RSPO certified palm oil
  • mandated our requirements for physically certified palm oil as part of our Minimum Sustainability Requirements Standards
  • introduced an online palm oil platform, which encourages suppliers to report their palm oil usage and certification status

Tell us more about your ambitions in this area?

Boots own brand and consumer brands, such as No7, Botanics, Liz Earle, Soap & Glory, and YourGoodSkin, have targets in place to source RSPO certified palm oil - this includes all derivatives of palm oil. 100% of Boots current usage is RSPO certified using mostly Book & Claim credits, and are now working towards our target to source 75% of palm oil from physically certified sources by the end of 2020.

How is Boots supporting these targets beyond their supply chain?

To support these targets, we are:

  • working to improve our palm oil data collection platform, so that we can monitor products during the development stage
  • strengthening our sustainable sourcing standards for suppliers and increasing levels of supplier engagement
  • working directly with major ingredient companies, which provide the raw materials to our suppliers
  • introducing an online knowledge base to inform suppliers of our targets and the different type of supply chain certification.

Not only are these actions are helping to raise awareness through the supply chain, but they also identify opportunities to develop the market for certified palm oil.

Our continuing work with the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition continues to raise standards and awareness with palm oil traders and first importers, and we will be building these insights into our sourcing programmes.


For more information on how Boots make a sustainable difference every day, click here.