Sainsbury’s has announced 95% of the palm oil used in its own-label products now comes from certified sustainable sources.

At the same time, it has launched a new washing-up liquid made with certified sustainable palm oil from ‘mass balance’ – one of three ways companies can source sustainable palm oil certified through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Sainsbury’s said the launch made it the first UK supermarket to offer such a washing-up liquid.

It added more than 1,100 of its own-label products were now made with certified sustainable palm oil, of which nearly 400 were from segregated – as opposed to mass balance – supply chains.

“We are proud to have made such progress by working hard with our suppliers to transform the way our products are made,” said director of Sainsbury’s brand Judith Batchelar. “Sourcing sustainable palm oil is extremely important for our business as it helps tackle deforestation and reflects the expectations of our customers.”

Sainsbury’s has been a member of the RPSO since 2006. The three main ways of sourcing RSPO certified sustainable palm oil are segregation, mass balance and ‘book and claim’. Of those, segregation is the strictest standard, involving physically segregated supply chains. ‘Book and claim’ is a system of off-setting through certificates and does not involve physical supply chains.

In its 20 by 20 sustainability manifesto, Sainsbury’s said it wanted to hit 100% certified sustainable palm oil (through mass balance or segregation) in its own-label lines by the end of 2014. A spokeswoman said the shortfall in reaching this target was due to a number of reasons, including a lack of availability of certain palm oil and palm kernel oil products.

“There are palm oil derivatives for which no certified sustainable source has yet been brought to market,” she said. “There are very small quantities used which take a considerable time to convert,” she added, stressing “we still have further product supply chains currently going through certification.”

“In all of the above it’s important to work with our suppliers and the industry to find solutions as opposed to stopping supply,” she said. “We buy green palm certificates to balance the difference and ensure that 100% of our Palm oil use is either directly sustainable (segregated and mass balance) or indirectly supporting sustainable palm oil. I don’t believe anyone has achieved the scale of change that we have.”