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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 key commodities responsible for the majority of deforestation globally, and is a signatory to the Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support.(1)

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 help maintain environmental and social values. 

Colgate uses soy oil, soy meal, and soy-based derivatives in some personal care products and Hill’s Pet Nutrition products. Our soy based materials originate in the United States, Europe and South America. To address the impact of soy on global deforestation, Colgate has joined the Consumer Goods Forum - Forest Positive Coalition. As a Coalition member, we support the Coalition’s actions to eliminate deforestation and forest conversion associated with commodity supply chains, including soy.  Aligned with other Coalition members, Colgate is committed to delivering on goals as established in the Coalition’s new Soy Roadmap.

To support Colgate’s overarching No Deforestation Policy we have implemented this commodity-specific soy policy that outlines our commitment, vision and actions we are taking for the responsible sourcing of soy-based materials.

Scope

This policy applies to all direct soy-based materials sourced by Colgate-Palmolive operations, subsidiaries, and joint ventures worldwide. The policy commitments extend to all direct 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 direct soy products produced, purchased, or traded, and all operations including landholdings, joint ventures, and third party suppliers.

The policy applies across all geographies globally where soy is originated. Pursuant to the policy, we will initially focus 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 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.

While Colgate does have indirect soy in our Hill’s Pet Nutrition supply chain footprint we are still in the process of mapping and evaluating that extended supply chain to consider including in scope of this policy in the future.

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

Respect for Human and Labor Rights

Guided by the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, under a policy of no exploitation, Colgate-Palmolive requires its suppliers at all tiers and across all global operations at a corporate group level to commit to: no child or forced/bonded labor; no unethical recruitment practices; and no discrimination or harassment in its supply chain. Suppliers must 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. Colgate supports the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Industry Resolution on Forced Labor and the Priority Industry Principles in which every worker should have freedom of movement, no worker should pay for a job and no worker should be indebted or coerced to work.  Colgate is a member of the CGF - Human Rights Coalition - Working to End Forced Labour.

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.  
  • Violence or retaliation by suppliers or upstream producers against human rights defenders or local communities will not be tolerated.

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.

Our suppliers are expected to apply this policy at the corporate group level across all operations including landholdings, joint ventures and third-party suppliers.

Furthermore, It is expected that all suppliers of forest risk commodities, including palm oil, soy, pulp & paper packaging and beef and beef tallow; implement a NDPE policy aligned with our No Deforestation policy and this commodity specific soy policy.

Transparency and traceability

Colgate-Palmolive is committed to transparency in implementation of our Responsible Soy Procurement Policy.  Colgate will strive to achieve visibility over our direct soy supply chain by gathering traceability information for our direct 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.

In 2020, Colgate conducted an initial mapping exercise with our direct soy suppliers to identify the material country of origin.  Colgate’s direct soy footprint was approximately 16,000 MT.  Through this exercise we were able to map 100% of our direct soy footprint to the country of origin.  Where the country of origin was identified as high risk (South America including Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay); our top 5 suppliers representing approx. 43% of Colgate’s total direct soy footprint were engaged to conduct traceability and support a supply chain risk assessment.  These top 5 suppliers represent 96% of our soy footprint from South America.

Based on the results of our initial soy traceability exercise, we were able to trace back the 1st aggregator or crusher at origin for 34% of our total direct soy footprint which included both soybean meal and oil as well as direct soy based derivatives.  We continue  to engage our suppliers on traceability and where traceability indicates sourcing from high risk municipalities (ex. Cerrado) we engage our suppliers to understand measures they are taking to ensure deforestation or conversion free supplies. 

Working With Our Suppliers

Colgate views our suppliers as partners in achieving a responsible soy supply chain. In 2020, we published an updated version of this policy, and in 2021, we will communicate our revised policy to our direct soy suppliers. We will collaborate with suppliers throughout the supply chain to implement our commitment. Suppliers of direct 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 direct suppliers to source deforestation and 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 time bound 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.

Indirect Soy

In 2020 we conducted an initial soy footprint for our indirect soy volumes. Based on the mapping analysis shown below we identified that approximately 57,000 metric tonnes fall in the indirect soy footprint. 

For our indirect soy footprint we followed RTRS soy conversion and footprint calculation methodology and the Consumer Goods Forum ( CGF ) Soy Measurement Ladder (Tiers Definitions).  Our indirect soy footprint represented in table 1, represents approximately 78% of Colgate’s total soy footprint.  Beginning in 2021, working with our partner Earthworm Foundation and our suppliers, we will define our approach to addressing our indirect soy supply chain.

Table 1 - Indirect Soy Footprint (MT)

Verification

The goal of this policy is to monitor and verify direct  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 only 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.

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. 

Colgate as a member of the CGF - Forest Positive Coalition will continue to work with member brands and retailers to drive change within our supply chains and engage beyond the coalition with NGOs, CSOs, governments, local communities and other stakeholders to transform social and environmental practices in the soy industry. 

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 encourages industry collaboration on transformation, and through our participation in the CGF Forest Positive Coalition, Colgate will seek opportunities to collaborate in landscape and jurisdictional projects focused on driving transformation in the soy industry.

Moving forward, planned implementation activities include:

  • Building on our 2020 traceability learnings; Gather additional traceability data from prioritized expanded list of suppliers reaching further upstream in the supply chain; (2021)
  • Expand our risk assessment to identify sourcing areas with social and environmental risk; (2021)
  • Continue to Socialize Colgate’s soy policy with direct  suppliers; (ongoing)
  • Based on prior indirect soy footprint, engage with 2 priority indirect suppliers to understand supply chain and indirect soy risk (2021)
  • Continue engaging suppliers on traceability of all direct soy back to the 1st aggregator or crusher in origin country (2025)

We will provide updates on our progress against the above implementation actions in annual updates to this soy policy.

Last Updated: August 2021


1. Cerrado Manifesto Statement of Support. https://cerradostatement.fairr.org/
2. High Conservation Value Network. https://hcvnetwork.org/