In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed PZ Cussons' Annual Report 2019. It stated: "Currently, our targets focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, landfilled waste and water consumption, on packaging optimisation and on sourcing sustainable palm oil.
In June 2018 we launched our ‘25 by 25’ Plastic Promise. This commits us, by 2025, to:
• reduce the amount of plastic we use by 25%;
• ensure 100% of any remaining plastic we use is reusable, recyclable or compostable; and
• use at least 30% recycled materials in all our plastic packaging.
The Group has been a participant in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for over ten years, currently reporting our Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
Whilst it talked about reductions in water consumption and energy use, there were no dated and qauntified targets for these areas.

"This year, we were graded B- by CDP, indicating effective management of our environmental impact – our best score since we commenced participation."
Other targets were:
* commitment to source 100% of our palm oil from producers whose entire operations have been independently verified as compliant with NDPE standards by 2020".
* a 3% year-on-year reduction in energy, water and waste across the Group."

The company was considered to show a reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts, it presented two or more environmental reduction targets but the report was not independently verified. It therefore received a Middle rating for Environment Reporting and lost half a mark under this category.

Reference:

Annual Report 2019 (12 March 2020)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer searched PZ Cusson’s website for the company's policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers. No information was found. The company had also been sent a questionnaire but no response was received.

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.

Given that the company lacked a clear policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers, it lost half a mark under Pollution and Toxics.

Reference:

http://www.pzcussons.com (March 2020)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed PZ Cussons website for the company's policy on toxics chemicals. In particular Ethical Consumer expected companies to have removed or have clear targets to remove from their supply chains the following chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.
It's Annual Report 2019 stated:
"Our Materials of Concern Committee has reviewed (and, where appropriate, initiated appropriate action in respect of) a number of issues and materials including:
* in line with our Plastic Promise, proactively removing PVC from all our global gift packs because of its potential environmental impact
* identifying alternative hair and skin care technologies which enable us to proactively and voluntarily phase out the use of Silicone D5
*reviewing our quality procedures for sourcing talc
* responding to the consumer demand for ‘clean beauty’ products, for example offering the consumer choice by providing products which do not contain SLES (Sulphates), parabens or silicones
* deploying technical documentation systems which gives us real-time access to material usage across our Beauty product portfolio

In 2017, the Consumer Safety section of its CSR pages on the website said: "Triclosan is an antibacterial agent which has been under continued scrutiny for several years. We have not used it in our leading antibacterial liquid soap, Carex, and other antibacterial products for many years and have taken the decision to remove it from the few remaining products in which it is used." Its Strategic Report 2016 said it was phasing it out.

PZ Cussons received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its toxic chemicals policy due to the fact it had not banned the use of parabens or phthalates. It therefore lost half a mark under the Pollution and Toxics category.

Reference:

Annual Report 2019 (12 March 2020)

It was reported in the Nigerian Guardian in October 2019 that after a series of failed appeals, communities impacted by the business activities of Wilmar PZ, a multinational company involved in agro palm cultivation in Cross River State, took Wilmar to the State House of Assembly for alleged pollution and land grabbing. The communities particularly accused Wilmar of not respecting any existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it entered into with the communities.
According to several testimonies, some community leaders were invited to the MOU drafting exercise, but were not allowed to be part of the process, thereby disenfranchising them.
“The said MOUs are held in secrecy and yet to be made available to the communities and or public. In fact, the signatories to the purported MoUs are yet to be known to the communities. Based on the aforementioned, transparency and accountability requirements informing the MoUs have been violated,” the communities alleged.
Eight years previously, Wilmar PZ, commenced its operation in Cross River State with its acquisition of existing estates in the state, namely Calaro Oil Palm Estate, Ibiea Palm Plantation, Kwa Falls Oil Palm Estate and the Obasanjo Farms.
The communities alleged: "The drainage channels introduced as embankment by Wilmar PZ has not only caused lot of devastation to crops but has further disrupted and contaminated the streams in the area. Subsistence farmers in these communities have been displaced and denied access and ownership to the land and cultural heritage without compensation. Their rich biodiversity has been altered and the environment degraded particularly with the use of pesticides and chemicals fertilizers”.
The communities made a 4 point demand saying. “Wilmar PZ be made to enter fresh consultation with the community people on how to implement the mandatory CSR law of the state, and that they should be made to halt further expansion into individual, families and communities lands as well as conduct a FPIC-(Free, Prior Informed Consent) before expansion commence. That the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Wilmar PZ be reviewed and the existing MoU and other laws should be enforced and Wilmar made to comply accordingly.
PZ Wilmar denied any land grabbing or exploitation of the people but the House of Assembly has ordered Wilmar PZ to obey the laws of the state or face the music.

In 2015, The Ecologist visited the Nigerian plant and found it to be far from operating like a corporation intent on meeting sustainability goals. It reported "In the village of Ibogo, the local community saw their farmland being excavated just one week before we arrived. They took us to show the land and the destroyed crops. Their stories are heartbreaking, because these people are desperate. Some of them have been cultivating the land for decades, and now their crops - plantains, bananas, cocoa and vegetables - are destroyed they have no way to provide alternative livelihoods."
The Ecologist also found in the nearby village of Betem, the water supply was severely damaged and polluted by PZ Wilmar's operations. The alternative borehole that PZ Wilmar supplied was not functioning and the company had not dropped by to repair it. Even for the brief spell where it worked, the water quality was poor, a thick brown liquid that was a major source of illness in the community.
Down the road, the leader of the village of Idoma, Chief Steven Omari complained: "As a consequence of the Wilmar project, our forest has been seriously degraded. Our timber has been destroyed and they have yet to compensate us. People who were farming in that area lost their land and they have yet to be compensated."
PZ Wilmar was reported to have provided jobs to some in the community, but these were "volatile, contract-free positions as day labourers - a far cry from the work of operating small-scale farms of their own. With no occupational training offered, it is difficult to see a way out for many."

The company lost a mark under the Habitats and Resources, Pollution and Toxics and Human Rights categories.

Reference:

Cross River Assembly reads riot act to multinationals (10 October 2019)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) ACOP’s website and found a submission from PZ Cussons for 2018.
While the company reported the total volume for each palm product it appeared that no palm oil products had been sourced through RSPO certified supply chains and stated it wouldn’t until 2023.
On its website it referred to its Palm Oil Promise (https://www.pzcussons.com/more-info-palm-oil/):
"In October 2018 we published our 2020 Action Plan, which comprises of five strategic objectives. Within them we pledge that 100% of our palm oil will come from independently verified, NDPE-compliant producers traceable back to individual mills, with the aim of achieving this by the end of 2020.
Today, 94% of our palm oil and palm kernel oil suppliers and 91% of our palm oil derivative suppliers, have NDPE commitments to ours. Additionally, 97% of our palm oil and 93% of our palm oil derivatives are fully traceable."
Overall PZ Cussons received a worst Ethical Consumer rating for its palm oil policy and lost a whole mark in this category.

Reference:

PZ Cussons ACOP 2018 (11 March 2020)

In March 2018 Greenpeace International released its report called “Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil”.

The report was based on the fact that in 2010 members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledged to do their bit to protect forests and limit climate change, with a clear commitment to clean up global commodity supply chains by 2020.

However Greenpeace stated “with less than two years to go until 2020, deforestation to produce commodities such as palm oil shows no sign of slowing down. Corporate commitments and policies have proliferated, but companies have largely failed to implement them. As a result, consumer brands, including those with ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, still use palm oil from producers that destroy rainforests, drain carbon-rich peatland and violate the human rights of workers and local communities – making their customers complicit in forest destruction, climate change and human rights abuses.”

At the start of 2018, Greenpeace International challenged 16 leading members of the CGF to demonstrate their progress towards a clean palm oil supply chain. It called on them to disclose publicly the mills that produced their palm oil, and the names of the producer groups that controlled those mills. Eight of the global brands responded to Greenpeace’s challenge and published data revealing where and from whom they ultimately buy palm oil. It said “Transparency and accountability – including the publication of explicit details about who produces the palm oil that companies use – create the conditions for sectoral reform.”

PZ Cussons refused to supply Greenpeace with any details of its palm oil supply chain.

Yet in 2017, Greenpeace assessed the actions palm oil traders were taking to ensure that they were not buying from producers that were destroying rainforests, draining peatlands or exploiting workers and local communities. It said “Although most traders had published NDPE policies, there were serious problems with their implementation: inconsistent standards, questionable enforcement and non-existent deadlines. Not only was the palm oil industry not working to the 2020 deadline set by brands, it did not even have a common timeline for delivering a palm oil supply free from deforestation and other social and environmental harms.”

PZ Cussons lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's palm oil category due to the fact Greenpeace concluded “none of the major traders can yet be relied upon to supply brands with palm oil that meets their NDPE standards; indeed, they are all known to source from forest destroyers... It follows that by sourcing from these traders brands are buying palm oil contaminated by forest destruction.”

As a result the company lost a mark under the Palm Oil category,

Reference:

Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil (