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Jan Dekker: sustainable Illipe Butter from Borneo

Within our Jan Dekker portfolio, especially for the Natural Oils and Butters, we are always searching for new, interesting sustainability projects. We met the founders of the foundation Gunung Hijau Masarang on one of the cosmetic trade fairs. They are offering crude Illipe Butter, better known in Borneo as Tengkawang Butter. As always, when starting with a new source, research is being done with regard to quality of the product, processes, continuity of supply, etc. Based on that information, they were already approved as a new source, however, when it comes to sustainability stories, it is important to check these yourself. Therefore, Arina Bergkotte (Director Purchase and Operations) and Femke den Hartog (IPM Jan Dekker Personal Care) travelled to the rainforest of West Kalimantan on Borneo. On Borneo a large area of tropical forest is being converted to palm oil plantations in response to international demand for Palm Oil. The locals (Dayaks) are selling the ground to the palm oil industry, who are setting the land on fire, to replant the ground with oil palms. The area around the palm trees are kept plant free by using chemical pesticides. This is causing the following: Bio diversity of the natural jungle is completely disrupted. The jungle delivers medical plants, fruit trees, vegetables, sugar palm (arenga), kemiri palm, tengkawang palm and many other useful plants and trees. Locals no longer can use the jungle to get their food and medicine. The orangutans are the two exclusively Asian species of extant great apes. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently found in only the rainforest of Borneo and Sumatra. The Sumatran and Bornean species are both critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List of mammals, and both are listed on the Appendix 1 of CITES. The Bornean orangutan population declined by 60% in the past 60 years, and is projected to decline by 82% over 75 years. Their habitat is shrinking with each step of deforestation done for the palm oil industry. Locals have a much lower income. The work on palm oil plantations is mostly done by people from other areas/islands, for a very low salary. The foundation has established an Illipe Butter factory in 2014, situated in Tembak, in the Sintang Regency of West Kalimantan. For centuries the Dayaks have been making fat from illipe nuts for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes. This factory helps the Dayak people to efficiently process the Tengkawang nuts into fat, bringing jobs and income without producing any waste. With this factory around 157 farmers are supported, and full time jobs have been created for local people. At the same time, by using the tengkawang nuts, the trees and the rest of the forest is maintained, which preserves the water, biodiversity and the climate. All processes in the factory strive for efficiency, fair trade and no waste. This foundation is also working together with the orangutan rescue center, which tries to bring traumatized or captured apes to a protected area in the National Park of Betung Kerihun. First they start in the center in Sintang, for medical and mental observation, and training. The second step is made in Tembak, where they get trained to find their own food, make nests in trees, and how to survive in a safe, dedicated part of the rainforest. By using our Illipe Butter from the original source in the rainforests of Borneo, we are supporting to maintain the unique biodiversity of this area, for the local people as well as the local animals. This trip will not be easily forgotten, with traveling by motorcycle to reach the destination, sleeping in an original long house in Tembak, avoiding snakes and funny looking insects, not to mentioned the most scary plane flight we ever experienced. However, it was all worth it, when it comes to adding another great sustainable project to our portfolio.

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Fantastic story!

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