The Eco Alchemist was born out of a need to supply palm free shampoo & conditioner bars to the Canadian market. It isn't easy and it was very important for us to do it properly, so we chose to get certified palm free to guarantee our customers and ourselves that our products are 100% palm free.
It is a common misconception that ingredients such as Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) and Cocamidopropyl Betaine are all palm free. We can assume it is because of the “coco” but also because manufacturers and suppliers alike state that they are “made from coconuts”. While this is true, there are other raw materials that make up these ingredients. The most common derivatives that make up a surfactant of plant origin are a blend of palm and coconut oils as they are very diverse and readily available (especially palm).
Many personal care brands may claim their products are palm free when oftentimes they are not. When we first applied for palm free certification with the Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark, I had believed that our product line was too, but was quickly informed otherwise. The SCI that we were using, although purchased from a supplier that stated it was palm free, could in fact contain palm oil. We learned that if the manufacturer ran out of coconut in production, they would use palm. Decyl Glucoside is also palm derived unless proven otherwise, which we were not aware. Again, the ingredient stated "made from coconuts".
When delving deeper into the composition of many other SCI products on the market, we found that the manufacturers wouldn’t provide sufficient evidence that their product didn’t contain palm. The manufacturer of a “certified palm free” SCI simply issued a statement (the "certification") that it didn’t contain palm but would not disclose the composition ingredients to back it up. After pressing the manufacturer for more information, we were bluntly told to find another supplier as they had plenty of customers already.
This blatant lack of transparency is unfortunately all too common in the personal care ingredient manufacturing industry, which in my opinion is unethical. A statement isn’t a certification and we have a right to know exactly what is in our products! How can we be up front with our customers when we don't actually have the full story ourselves?
It was a long road for us to certify our shampoo bars. Once we found out that our products in fact contained palm oil, it took a year of researching ingredients, reformulating and redeveloping our products. Then, in order to be able to purchase direct from manufacturers we trust, we had to source much larger quantities than a business in the startup phase would normally need.
In the end, we are so very proud that we were persistent and were able to find ethical producers of our raw ingredients. We are grateful that we had the expertise of the team at POFCAP to guide us and that our entire range is certified palm free.