Environmental stewardship

Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change. We continue to take steps to ensure that raw materials, such as wood-based packaging materials and palm oil, are sourced responsibly. 

In 2016 we published a public position on deforestation-free sourcing (PDF), where we commit ourselves to taking steps to ensure that we are sourcing commodities in a responsible way.

John Bradford driving a forklift truck carrying Horlicks ingredients in Slough, Uk
John Bradford, Horlicks stores administrator, Slough, UK

Palm oil

Palm oil production can have damaging effects in important rainforest areas. In 2016, in collaboration with Rainforest Alliance, we have developed a sourcing standard for oil palm materials1 which we piloted with selected Consumer Healthcare brands. We are a small user of palm oil, and in 2016 we purchased this material from a supplier certificated to an internationally recognised standard for sustainable palm oil growing for our UK Horlicks brand.  For the remaining amount of direct palm oil used in our operations we have offset this with book&claim certificates.  Our current focus of activity is to understand oil palm derivatives and how our suppliers who provide these materials address environmental issues. Our aim is to ensure that all direct suppliers of palm oil, kernel oil and its derivatives used in our products are free from deforestation, although we recognise this is a challenge due to the complex nature of our supply chains.

As of May 2017, we became members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); a global, multi-stakeholder initiative promoting the production and use of sustainable palm oil.

Paper packaging

We have been working with the Rainforest Alliance to map risk in our paper packaging supply chain. We used this analysis to support our sourcing standard for packaging, and we regularly assess suppliers to ensure they meet the standard2. According to most recent assessment, 88% of our paper packaging materials used in our own operations are sourced responsibly, an increase of 17% from 2015. We achieved this by sourcing more materials from paper mills that are certified with the Forest Stewardship Council certification scheme. Our 2020 goal is to source at least 90% of our paper packaging for GSK branded products according to the standard.

1 GSK expectations for oil palm materials: no deforestation, no development on peatlands, no human exploitation and respect of the rights of local or indigenous communities, access by suppliers and producers to a credible grievance mechanism
2 GSK minimum conditions for virgin wood fibre specify the material must be from legal origin and must not be harvested in violation of traditional and civil rights, in high conservation value forests, or from forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use.