Responsible sourcing:
We care about sustainable supply chains

Real sustainability begins at the source and carries through along the entire value chain. For this reason, responsible sourcing is a key element of our sustainability strategy. BASF is deeply involved in a range of initiatives to not only increase the share of nature-based ingredients in our portfolio, but also to enhance the sustainability of farming practices and the wellbeing of farmers and workers.

Sustainable palm oil

Palm oil, palm kernel oil and their respective derivatives are valuable raw materials for home and personal care ingredients. However, oil palm plantations can contribute significantly to deforestation and loss of biodiversity. The loss of peatland involved is a further factor in climate change. These are some of the reasons why BASF became a founding partner in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The RSPO is qualified to issue certifications of sustainable cultivation and responsible farming practices. It continuously brings more and more palm farmers and palm oil consumers on board. BASF is dedicated to fostering the transition to a sustainable palm industry.

The BASF Palm Dialog, established in 2016, is a platform to discuss these topics with representatives from the entire supply chain. These stakeholders include participants from industry, retail, associations and NGOs as well as trade media. During the world’s premier personal care industry tradeshow, In-Cosmetics, delegates confer about certification requirements, transparency on cost impact and public awareness of the supply chain from smallholders to end consumers.

Palm kernel oil and to a lesser extent palm oil are some of our most important renewable raw materials. We mainly use these raw materials to produce ingredients for the cosmetics, detergent, cleaner and food industries. Oil palms have the highest yield per hectar compared to other oil producing crops, hence palm oil needs significantly less land to grow the amounts of raw materials needed. Oil palm products also reduce poverty as they provide work for millions of farmers and their families. And with its unique chemical properties, palm kernel oil is especially difficult to substitute. We aim to ensure that palm-based raw materials come from certified sustainable sources.

To this end, we have endorsed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2004 and we consider RSPO to be a standardized implementation of a strong No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy. We purchased 242,946 metric tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil in 2021 (2020: 227,213 metric tons).

We again met our own voluntary commitment to source only RSPO-certified palm oil and palm kernel oil. This avoided more than 330,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions compared with the procurement of conventional palm oil and palm kernel oil. By 2025, we aim to extend our voluntary commitment to sustainable procurement to the main intermediate products1 based on palm oil and palm kernel oil. We were able to trace 96% of our global palm footprint to oil mill level as of the end of 2021 (2020: 95%2 ).

In addition, we continued to drive forward the RSPO supply chain certification of our sites for cosmetic ingredients. At the end of 2021, 26 production sites worldwide were certified by the RSPO (2020: 25). In line with raised awareness for sustainability, we continue to see growing demand for certified palm-based products from our customers. BASF offers a very broad range of ingredients based on RSPO-certified sustainable palm (kernel) oil in accordance with its principles and criteria.

Since launching certified ingredients in 2012, BASF has been continuously moving towards a comprehensive global product range that will allow consumer goods manufacturers to develop value added formulations that meet increasing demand for ingredients that are certified sustainable. The annual BASF Palm Progress Report reports on our measures and progress toward more sustainability and transparency in the value chain. Find out more about our entire sustainable palm strategy: Palm-Dialog

Sustainable coconut oil

Coconut oil is an important raw material in ingredients for cosmetic products, detergents and cleaning agents as well as food applications. As part of our sustainability strategy, BASF cooperates with Cargill, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in a development partnership under the program commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

BASF has begun purchasing certified sustainable coconut oil, whose origin can be traced back to Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in General Santos in the Philippines. The alliance introduced certified sustainable coconut oil in 2018.

Alongside establishing a certified environmentally compatible coconut oil supply chain, a main goal of the partnership is to improve the lives of coconut smallholder farmers in selected regions of the Philippines and Indonesia by working with them and teaching them better agricultural practices.

This is an important step toward greater sustainability in the coconut oil supply chain, as the demand for coconut products is growing faster than the supply. In addition, consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues associated with coconut farming, and favor products based on sustainably sourced feedstocks. Find out more about our entire sustainable coconut oil strategy.

We need the palm kernel oil for our ingredients. Only palm kernel oil and coconut oil deliver the necessary C-chain.

Sustainable castor oil

Castor oil, derived from the castor bean, is an essential ingredient in a wide array of formulations. The oil and its derivatives are used as raw material in the production of, for example, plastics, coatings and paints, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. As is the case with many crops, there are sustainability issues surrounding some types of castor bean farming. Up to now, however, there have been no globally defined and recognized standards for certification. In response, we launched the Sustainable Castor Initiative – Pragati in 2016 together with the companies Arkema and Jayant Agro and the non-governmental organization Solidaridad.

The project aims to improve the economic situation of castor farmers in India and at the same time raise awareness for sustainable farming. India accounts for around 80% of the castor beans grown worldwide, mostly in smallholder structures. Farmers are trained on the basis of the specially developed sustainability code Sustainable Castor Caring for Environmental and Social Standards (SuCCESS) in areas such as cultivation methods, efficient water use, health and the safe use of crop protection products. Since the start of the project, more than 5800 smallholders and over 13300 hectares of land have been certified for sustainable castor cultivation.

In 2019, the founders of the Pragati initiative launched the Sustainable Castor Association (SCA), which has developed a sustainability code for the wider supply chain in addition to SuCCESS. This makes it possible to further process the castor beans obtained from the program into certified castor oil and derivatives and to bring them into the downstream supply chain. Following successful auditing of our supply chain by an independent certification body, we were able to source certified sustainable castor oil from the program for the first time in 2021. Find out more about our entire sustainable castor oil strategy.

Sustainable rambutan

In response to the increasing consumer demand for sustainably sourced, natural cosmetics and in line with BASF’s commitment to sustainability goals, the company’s Care Chemicals Division launched the Rambutan Program in 2014. Its objective: to explore benefits and applications of the healthy super-fruit, its husk and kernel as well as other parts of the tree. The result has been a wide array of renewable, natural ingredients

The project, based in Vietnam, was preceded by research into the potential personal care benefits of extracts derived from different parts of the rambutan tree and its fruit. This was to a large extent made possible by BASF’s interdisciplinary innovation platforms for active ingredients, one of which focuses on the extraction of valuable substances from plant material.

Rambutan (nephelium lappaceum), which is native to the humid tropics of Southeast Asia, is closely related to the lychee and mainly cultivated for its fruit. It has also been valued traditionally across Asia for multiple health benefits.

For example, the fruit has long been used to treat dysentery and fever. In addition, a poultice made of the leaves has been used to treat headaches, while a decoction of the bark is applied for tongue disease and mashed roasted seeds are used to control blood sugar levels. The program respects the needs and interests of local ecosystems as well as smallholders and workers. It helps protect biodiversity, while enhancing conditions for local populations. Find out more about our sustainable rambutan strategy.