In February 2020, Ethical Consumer sent Neal’s Yard a questionnaire requesting information about the company’s environmental reporting and/or policies. No response was received. As such Ethical Consumer referred to publicly available information on the company's website.
Neal Yard’s website contained a lot of discussion of environmental issues, including a discussion of ingredients and materials used for its products, energy, packaging, biodiversity, water, ecosystems, and waste. It was stated that 90% of the company's products were manufactured in the UK and that it generated more than 5% of its own electricity at its factory in Dorset.
92% of its physically processed agricultural ingredients (defined by the COSMOS standard) were said to be certified Organic by weight. It was said to be committed to not using Genetically Modified ingredients.
The company was considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts.
Regarding future targets the company's website detailed the following:
- Carbon emission intensity (scope 1 & 2): targeting a 47% reduction by 2025 and an 87% reduction by 2050 from 2010 baseline. 19% reduction at last assessment.
- All plastic bottles 100% PCR [Post Consumer Recycled] before 2025. Currently all plastic bottles up to 200ml.
- Zero (non hazardous) waste to landfill from our two main sites (Peacemarsh eco-factory and London office) by 2020.
Regarding external verification of environmental data, an email sent to Ethical Consumer in July 2018 stated that checks on emissions data were said to be undertaken by Natural Capital Partners, which certified Neal’s Yard as CarbonNeutral. However, apart from this, the company's environmental performance data was not externally verified.
Neal's Yard received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting as its information had been updated within the last two years, it showed a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, it had two dated, quantified future targets for reducing its impacts, but its external verification was limited to its emissions data. The company therefore lost hal a mark under Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Neal's Yard website and saw that it sold some cotton towels that were made from 100% certified organic cotton.

According to Anti-Slavery International (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017.

As the company only used certified organic cotton, it likely to have avoided these issues; overall the company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Neal's Yard website for the company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer and are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors. A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.

Neal's Yard provided a long list of the substances that were not in its products, including phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and anything derived from petroleum. The company also went into detail on what was in its products. As a result, the company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its toxic chemcials policy.

Reference:

UN Global Compact Annual Communication (2017)

In April 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Neal’s Yard website, where it was stated that it had been certified with the “Look for the Zero” logo, as it used zero plastic ingredients in their products. As such the company was deemed to have a positive policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers. This story has been marked as information only.

According to Beat the Microbead, there are more than 500 known microplastics ingredients that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.

According to a recent report by Code Check, non-biodegradable liquid polymers were also prevalent across a wide range of cosmetic products. Like microplastics, these materials degrade with a similar difficulty in the environment and may cause similar harm.

In 2018, the UK government banned the use of microbeads in toothpastes, shower gels and facial scrubs. However, some products classified as “leave on” were not subject to the ban, this would include lotions, sun cream and makeup, as well as abrasive cleaning products. This ban did not extend to non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

Reference:

Website (16 October 2017)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Neal's Yard website and the website of the Roundtable For Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for details on Neal's Yard's palm oil policy. Nothing could be found. The company was contacted to confirm its approach to palm oil sourcing.

In March 2020, Neal’s Yard sent Ethical Consumer an internal company statement on the topic of palm oil. This statement claims that there “is no direct use of palm oil or palm kernel oil in any of the products that we make.” The company does retail products from other brands that do contain palm oil, but all of this is certified Organic.

Neals Yard Remedies received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for palm oil policy and practice due to the following reasons:

1. NYR stated that it did not use palm kernel oil and only used organic palm oil. It did mention that it used derivatives, and expressed a clear desire to avoid these ingredients where possible. In cases where this is not possible, the company stated that it sought to use RSPO-certified palm derivatives. It stated "All new ingredients that we’ve taken on since January 2017 are compliant with COSMOS certification that stipulates specific widely used cosmetic ingredients must be formulated using CSPO palm sources".

2. Mapping supply chain/3rd party verification (inc organic) - NYR was considered to have some organic verification in its supply chain.

3. There was a group-wide commitment.

4. NYR did not disclose any of its suppliers for its palm oil derivatives.

5. Positive initiatives - "Neal’s Yard Remedies has always considered a sustainable supply chain a core aspect of any responsible business. We are committed to sourcing natural ingredients from certified organic crops in order to support regenerative farming and healthy ecosystems. We also choose ingredients based on a wider scale of biodiversity, sustainability and social values." The company received positive marks for the use of organic palm oil in its soap ranges manufactured by others, and for its commitment to reducing its use of palm oil in new products.

6. Disclosure of volumes – NYR had not purchased palm oil or palm kernel oil in the last 12 months. The company did not disclose the volume of palm derivatives it purchased.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)