New documentary calls for sustainable palm oil practices

In 2019 the BBC has made a concerted effort to put the environment at the top of its agenda and thanks to programs such as Blue Planet and Natural World, sustainability is now at the forefront of many viewers' minds.

The broadcaster's latest take on this theme addresses an issue rife in the beauty industry. Unmasked: Make-Up’s Big Secret is 22-minute educational documentary that calls on consumers to put pressure on brands to come clean about their palm oil supply chain.

Presented by makeup artist and salon owner Emmy Burbridge, the show takes viewers from the UK to plantations in Papua New Guinea, demonstrating the damage palm oil farming has on the environment and local communities. But rather than call for a complete palm oil ban, it aims to inspire viewers to switch to brands that are using sustainable palm oil (the ingredient is still considered a better option than sunflower or coconut, which would need up to ten times more land to produce the same amount).

The film highlights the need for new certifications and language that informs consumers whether palm oil in the products they are buying is sourced sustainably. While many beauty companies were approached for comment, only one was willing to be interviewed: L’Oréal.

To see what L’Oréal's sustainability director had to say on the topic, and to find out more about how plam oil can be farmed safely, watch the documentary below.