Responsible Soy Procurement Policy

Background

As part of Colgate-Palmolive’s strategy to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, we are committed to an environmentally and socially responsible global soy supply chain. Colgate recognizes that soybean is one of the four commodities responsible for the majority of deforestation globally, and is a signatory to the Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support.1 To guide implementation of Colgate’s overarching No Deforestation Policy within the soy supply chain, this commodity-specific policy outlines our commitment and vision for responsible sourcing of soy-based materials.  

Colgate currently uses soy oil, soy meal, and soy derivatives originating in the United States and South America. In Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, expansion of soybean production is driving loss of highly biodiverse forest and grassland biomes, including the Amazon, the Cerrado, the Chaco, the Atlantic Forest, and the Chiquitano. Action from the soy industry is urgently needed to halt loss of native vegetation and conserve environmental and social values. 

Scope 

This policy applies to all soy-based materials sourced by Colgate-Palmolive operations, subsidiaries, and joint ventures worldwide. The policy commitments extend to all soy products and soy derivatives Colgate purchases from third party suppliers. Colgate expects suppliers to apply this policy throughout their soy supply chain, including all soy products produced, purchased, or traded, and all operations including landholdings, joint ventures, and third party suppliers.

The policy is global in scope, and applies across all geographies where soy is originated. We will initially focus implementation on soy products originating in South America, particularly the Cerrado and the Amazon in Brazil, and the Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay. These biomes are priorities for engagement due to the high rate of native vegetation loss driven by soy production, and their significant environmental and social values, including biodiversity, carbon storage, hydrologic services, and cultural value.

Our Commitment 

Colgate-Palmolive aspires to build a transparent and responsible soy supply chain, and contribute to industry level transformation. We commit to eliminating exploitation and conversion of native vegetation from our soy supply chain, and promote the protection of areas of significant environmental and social value.

Our specific commitments in the soy supply chain are as follows:

  • No deforestation and no conversion of native vegetation

  • No exploitation of people or local communities

  • Good agricultural practices

  • Legal compliance

No Deforestation and No Conversion of Native Vegetation

We commit to eliminating conversion of native vegetation with significant environmental or social value from our soy supply chain. This commitment prohibits both deforestation of forested biomes such as the Amazon, and conversion of native vegetation in grassland or savannah biomes such as the Cerrado. Wherever possible, soy production should occur on already converted or degraded land.

We will use High Conservation Value (HCV) concepts to guide implementation of this commitment. We expect suppliers and soy growers to identify and protect areas with attributes aligned with the six HCV values, including significant concentrations of biodiversity; landscape level ecosystems; rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems; areas providing important ecosystem services; and areas critical to the cultural identity and needs of local communities.2 Colgate encourages landscape approaches and multi-stakeholder land use planning to identify areas of significant social and environmental value.

We recognize that HCVs have not widely been identified across soy producing regions, and a scalable methodology does not yet exist for implementation of the HCV methodology in the soy supply chain. We encourage the industry to promote development of a scalable methodology for identification of areas of significant environmental and social value, particularly in South America. Colgate welcomes solutions developed through multi-stakeholder collaboration, and is open to adopting such solutions for implementation of this policy.

No Exploitation of People or Local Communities

Colgate commits to a supply chain that respects and upholds the rights of workers, indigenous peoples and communities.

Human and Labor Rights
Guided by the UN Declaration on Human Rights, under a policy of no exploitation, Colgate-Palmolive requires its suppliers at all tiers to commit to: no child or forced/bonded labor; no unethical recruitment practices; and no discrimination or harassment in its supply chain. Suppliers will be compliant with all relevant laws and regulations and additionally commit to working conditions, health and safety, hours and wages that are in accordance with International Labour Organization standards. Written contracts, where required by law, will be provided to all workers in a language that they understand that details the nature of the work, rate of pay and pay arrangements, working hours, vacation and other leave, and other benefits of employment. Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining will also be guaranteed.

Land Tenure Rights
Colgate-Palmolive suppliers will respect the legal or customary land-tenure and use rights of indigenous and local communities, as well as their rights to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for operations affecting their land or resources.  Soybean growers in Colgate’s supply chain are expected to demonstrate legal title for the property where soybean originates, including official documents demonstrating the farm boundaries. Suppliers are expected to gather information about social conflict in their soy supply chain, and ensure they are not sourcing from growers involved in illegal land acquisition or conflict with local communities.

Conflict Resolution
Colgate-Palmolive suppliers will resolve complaints and conflicts through a mutually agreed upon and transparently documented system that is implemented and accepted by all relevant parties.

Good Agricultural Practices

Colgate encourages implementation of regenerative agriculture practices at the farm level. Good agricultural practices should contribute to improved soil health, carbon sequestration, and on-farm biodiversity. Relevant practices include responsible use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides; responsible use of water; soil health practices; personal protective equipment; responsible waste management; and management of soil to prevent erosion and build soil health. Suppliers are expected to encourage good agricultural practices among soy growers, gather information about farmer practices, and share guidance on best practices appropriate to the local context.

Legal Compliance

Colgate commits to compliance with all applicable laws and regulations at the national and international levels. Suppliers must demonstrate compliance with legal requirements, e.g. the Brazilian Forest Code, and registration and compliance with the Rural Environmental Registry. We will exclude any soy produced on illegally deforested or converted land from our supply chain.

Working With Our Suppliers

Colgate views our suppliers as partners in achieving a responsible soy supply chain. We will collaborate with suppliers throughout the supply chain to implement our commitment. Suppliers of soy products to Colgate are expected to meet the requirements of this policy, and implement equivalent policies for their own operations.

We are working with our first-tier suppliers to source deforestation/conversion-free soy products. Suppliers are expected to provide traceability data for their soy supply chain, and will be evaluated against our policy expectations. 

In the event of non-compliance with this policy, Colgate will work with suppliers to create an action plan outlining timebound commitments to meet our requirements. If a supplier is unable or unwilling to take the necessary actions to conform to the expectations outlined in our policy, Colgate-Palmolive may terminate the business relationship with the supplier.

Implementation

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Colgate has initiated implementation of this policy. Efforts to date include a soy footprinting exercise to identify all soy products and quantities purchased by Colgate, supplier engagement to identify country origins of soy, and procurement of Proterra certified soy for volumes originating in South America. 

Planned implementation activities in the medium-term include:

  • Gather traceability data from prioritized suppliers reaching further upstream in the supply chain;

  • Carry out a risk assessment to identify sourcing areas with social and environmental risk;

  • Socialize Colgate’s soy policy with first tier suppliers;

  • Track implementation progress among suppliers;

  • Publicly report on Colgate’s implementation progress;

  • Create a strategy for monitoring and verifying compliance;

  • Develop a Colgate soy action plan, and;

  • Contribute to transformation work to change practices on the ground.

Traceability

Colgate will achieve visibility over our soy supply chain by gathering traceability information for all soy products. The objective of traceability is to identify soy origins and associated risks, and facilitate monitoring. The ultimate traceability goal is to farm level, though Colgate will gather interim levels of traceability while the industry builds greater visibility. Colgate will regularly report progress on traceability.

Verification

Colgate will monitor and verify first tier supplier compliance with this policy. Traceability information will facilitate monitoring land use change at farm level. Colgate expects suppliers to demonstrate compliance with the policy in their own supply chain, including conducting verification and geospatial monitoring of their supply base. We will give preference to suppliers whose soy products have been independently verified to be in compliance with Colgate’s soy policy.

We will take a step-wise approach to verification. As an interim measure, Colgate-Palmolive will strive to procure soy products from South America that have been verified by a credible certification scheme, such as Proterra and RTRS, to verify low risk of sourcing soy contributing to deforestation. Since 2018, 100% of the soy products Colgate-Palmolive purchases in South America is certified.

Transparency 

Colgate-Palmolive is committed to transparency in implementation of our Responsible and Soy Procurement Policy. Progress towards our goals will be shared in our annual Sustainability Report published on the Colgate Sustainability website.

Collective Action

Colgate recognizes the need for industry collaboration to achieve a transparent and conversion free soy supply chain. We will continue to support existing efforts to minimize deforestation due to soy expansion in Brazil, such as the Soy Moratorium. 

Additionally, Colgate commits to engaging with international and local stakeholders to develop scalable solutions to protect threatened biomes, particularly the Cerrado. Colgate will support multi-stakeholder efforts to develop methodologies to identify and monitor high conservation value areas. Colgate recognizes the importance of farmer incentives to implement sustainability standards beyond legal requirements, and will participate in discussion of industry funding mechanisms for conversion and deforestation free soy. 

Colgate believes collective action is necessary to implement transformation activities that will change social and environmental practices at scale. Colgate encourages industry collaboration on transformation, and commits to supporting and co-financing transformation projects in the soy supply chain.

1Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support. https://cerradostatement.fairr.org/

2High Conservation Value Network. https://hcvnetwork.org/