Sustainable cosmetics from the Amazon

Project description

Title: Sustainable use and environmental regulation compliance in three regions in the Amazon
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Brazil
Partner: Natura, Symrise
Overall term: 2017 to 2020


The Amazon region covers half of the land area of Brazil and is known for its great biodiversity. The lack of economic incentives to use land sustainably has led to the clearance of vast areas of forest in the Amazon. To reduce this deforestation, all processes that are necessary for the sustainable production of goods need to become more competitive.

Cooperatives that engage in sustainable production concentrate primarily on single lines of products instead of harnessing the diversity of potentially profitable products. Cultivation and processing is generally carried out manually, meaning that smallholders in cooperatives can only earn modest incomes.

Up to now, many smallholders did not possess the necessary skills to comply with the strict requirements of environmental legislation. Companies that source for sustainably produced raw materials from the Amazon are dependent on reliable supply chains. Smallholders have to adhere to sustainability criteria and to quality standards too.


Sustainable use and regeneration of natural resources is ensured in cooperation with the private sector. Smallholders and traditional population groups in the Amazon are preserving rainforests and supplying renewable raw materials to industry. 

Die Babassupalme ist eine südamerikanische Palmenart aus deren Samen das Babassuöl gewonnen wird. Das Bild wurde an der Transamazônica in Pará aufgenommen.


Natura, a Brazilian manufacturer of cosmetics, Symrise, a German producer of fragrances and raw materials, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have formed a partnership to make cultivation and production processes more sustainable.

The cooperation partners are supporting cooperatives in widening the scope of their production and increasing profitability. The project is supporting technological innovations that improve the quality of products. The cooperatives are using the waste generated during the processing of plant raw materials to develop new products that harness the entire economic potential of a given plant species.

The project is improving the skills from cooperatives by means of organisational development measures and training for staff. It helps smallholders and cooperatives to comply with statutory environmental regulations – for example, by registering their land in the environmental registry or recovering degraded areas of land. The advisory team strengthens processes on the ground together with smallholders and ensures close cooperation between the participating institutions.

Natura provides advice on technical issues related to production and processing. The cosmetics manufacturer is introducing quality standards for the relevant products and fostering better cultivation, harvesting and production methods. The company is supporting production processes that are based on plant species that were previously unused. Symrise is actively involved in the development of new methods and technologies for improving processing. Production waste is being investigated to identify whether it is suitable for the creation of by-products and the establishment of new value-added chains.

The project is being financed as part of the develoPPP programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Babassu-Mandeln werden mehrere Tage getrocknet, bevor sie zu Öl verarbeitet werden.


So far, the project has achieved the following results:

  • The financial viability of the production of babassu oil by the Coopcau cooperative is currently being examined with tests and potential analyses that also take into account the use of by-products from the production of this oil. The project is also supporting direct contact between the cooperative and potential buyers.
  • Four technical options for increasing the efficiency of drying systems for andiroba seeds have been identified and are being tested in the current harvesting season.
  • A comprehensive training programme to strengthen the management capacities of the governing boards of cooperatives has been developed and is currently being implemented. At the moment, 25 board members from five cooperatives from the Transamazônica region are being trained.
  • So far, 53 families have benefited from advice from the project and have been enrolled in the environmental registry.

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