10.12.2021 – 08:30
Deutsche Umwelthilfe eV
- One third of the 52 examined candle suppliers are silent about the use of palm oil
- Grocery trade shows positive trends; Decoration providers, furniture stores and wholesale markets often leave consumers in the dark
- Not using palm oil is not automatically sustainable: Certified sustainable palm oil and moderate consumption are important as an incentive for sustainable development and forest protection
- DUH demands a Europe-wide labeling obligation for renewable raw materials such as palm oil on candles and other non-food products such as cosmetics
It is still very difficult for German consumers to recognize a candle without destroying the rainforest. This is the result of the second candle check by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH). Many candles contain palm oil, which rainforests are still being cleared to grow. The loss of rainforests is the second largest cause of the climate crisis and threatens numerous animal species such as the orangutan in Indonesia. The report shows that, however, a third of the 52 manufacturers and retailers surveyed are silent about whether their candles contain palm oil or whether the palm oil used is obtained from sustainably certified cultivation. 20 of the 52 companies surveyed now state that the palm oil they use in candles comes exclusively from sustainably certified cultivation. That is 5 more than in the previous year.
Simply doing without palm oil is not a solution for the climate, the environment and people: only as sustainably certified palm oil can exclude the clearing of valuable forests for new plantations. Replacing palm oil with European vegetable oils, fossil paraffin or soybean oil does not automatically make candles more environmentally friendly. Consumers must be able to see directly on the product by means of a mandatory declaration where palm oil is contained and which certification ensures more sustainability.
Sascha Müller-Kraenner, Federal Managing Director of DUH: “Our candle check shows that numerous companies are voluntarily unwilling to switch to certified palm oil and to label this. We therefore call for mandatory labeling of renewable raw materials such as vegetable oils on candles and other non-food products such as detergents and cosmetics The planned EU regulation against imported deforestation should also include palm oil-based substances that have been chemically processed. These so-called derivatives can be found in numerous foods and non-food products such as candles, cosmetics, detergents and care products – and cleaning products and are currently not taken into account. “
In the DUH candle check, the grocery retailer scores positively: If candles from own brands contain palm oil, 100 percent of this comes from sustainable cultivation. While last year hardly any company stated sustainable palm oil on the product label, the supermarket chains Norma, Lidl, Aldi Süd and Aldi Nord have been printing the RSPO label – the certification of the “Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil” initiative – on their candles since this season. In addition, Lidl announced that it would also mark the other raw materials with a precise indication of their origin in the course of the coming year.
On the other hand, a large number of the furniture stores, wholesalers and decoration providers such as Höffner, Roller, Nanu Nana, Woolworth and Depot stood out negatively. The companies remain opaque and do not publish whether palm oil is used or whether the palm oil used comes from sustainable, deforestation-free cultivation. As in 2020, candle giant Ikea is sticking to 100 percent sustainable palm oil, but is not yet planning to finally label it accordingly in 2022. Only decoration supplier Butlers explicitly mentions the sustainability of the substitute raw material contained in its scented candles – soy wax – which is to be certified organic in the future. Even hardware stores still have some catching up to do with the transparency of the candle raw materials they use. At least Hornbach now demands 100 percent certified palm oil from its candle producers. In the future, Bauhaus will also mark candles with its own logo “palm oil-free”, but without addressing the sustainability of the raw materials used instead.
Karoline Kickler, palm oil expert at DUH: “The label” palm oil-free “is no guarantee for a sustainable product – petroleum-based paraffin is often used. It is important that palm oil comes from environmentally and socially responsible cultivation and is consumed moderately. In addition, the EU, as the world’s second most important palm oil importer after India and China will become the climate protection partner of the tropical countries and increase incentives and investments in tropical forest protection. As a further supplementary measure, we are calling for EU legislation that prohibits financial institutions from making forest-damaging investments abroad. Companies that have been using the cheap raw material palm oil for decades profit, but must not wait or even withdraw. You have to invest in smallholder and eco-fair mixed cultivation and in rainforest protection areas. We are therefore delighted that the Gebrüder Müller candle factory, with its almost 18,000 tons of processed palm oil, is announcing that it will be increasing its smallholder farms from 2022 onwards consider and support protected areas financially. “
During its candle check, the DUH checks whether companies purchase palm oil in candles from certified sustainable cultivation and how they indicate this on their products. Around 7 percent of the palm oil used in Germany was made into candles in 2019. But only 40 percent of the palm oil in candles comes from certified sustainable, deforestation-free plantations. Paraffin – the dominant candle raw material – is catastrophic from the point of view of climate protection, as it comes from petroleum processing. That is why fossil paraffin must be replaced in the long term with an environmentally friendly alternative.
For the candle check, the companies were asked to comment using a questionnaire and randomly publicly available data were viewed. The DUH assessment was sent to the companies by email with the option of checking and supplementing them.
Original content by: Deutsche Umwelthilfe eV, transmitted by news aktuell