Aaron Reber, Charles Ortiz – Natural Plant Products and OMG, US SUSTAINABILITY
Measuring environmental sustainability
Natural Plant Products is the manufacturing and marketing subsidiary of OMG, a farming cooperative comprised of over 50 farms in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, US dedicated to sustainably growing oilseed crops for the personal care and cosmetics industries. We have grown meadowfoam for over 30 years and hold regular, comprehensive grower meetings to ensure that all members understand and support the cooperative’s mission. Additionally, our cooperative dedicates a staff agronomist to support, monitor, and maximise sustainable crop production. Tucked between the Oregon Coast and Cascade mountain ranges, the Willamette Valley is located in the northwest region of Oregon. It is a valley known for rich fertile soil which resulted from vast ice age floods coming down the Columbia River Gorge. The combination of this fertile soil, mild summers, and high levels of precipitation have made the Willamette Valley one of the largest seed crop producing regions in the world. In addition to meadowfoam and daikon radish, our growers cultivate numerous other crops including grass seed, cabbage, lentils, turnips and kale.
Growth of vegetable oils in personal care
Since the infancy of the personal care and cosmetics industries, vegetable oils have been used for their emolliency and skin barrier function. In fact, there is evidence that castor oil was used in ancient Egypt as a protective salve.1 Currently, there are a variety of factors that affect the global market for vegetable oils such as increasing demand, biofuels development, fluctuations in crude oil prices, speculation, droughts, and changing geographical weather patterns.2 In 2012, global production of major vegetable oils (rapeseed, palm and soybean) topped 160 million metric tonnes.3
Yet, the six major markets
(Europe, Japan, China, SE Asia, India, and US) in the personal care and cosmetics industries only consumed approximately
20,200 metric tonnes of vegetable oils.4 While this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, we can see just how small our industry is in relation to the global market for vegetable oils. With that in mind, we extrapolate just how little say personal care manufacturers may have when sourcing commodity oils. Trends in vegetable oils will necessarily follow the trends in the food industry, which consumes well over 80% of the world’s vegetable oils as of 2008.2
growth in vegetable oils expected per year in personal care alone in Europe, Japan, China, and North America,4
it is imperative that personal care and cosmetics manufacturers look to partner with farming organisations that have long-term visions for sustainable growth and transparent supply chains.
With over 5%
Deciding what to measure The following is an attempt to begin to measure the sustainability of our farms. Sustainability is an inconsistently defined term, and not just in the personal care industry. Previously, we have used the following commonly accepted definition of sustainability as laid out in The Future of Sustainability:5
‘The core of mainstream Reprinted from February 2014 PERSONAL CARE 1
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