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)
Countries: Brazil
Partners: Natura, Symrise 
Overall term: 2017 to 2021



The Amazon region covers over half of Brazil’s surface area and is known for its great biological diversity. 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, the production of environmentally friendly goods needs to become competitive. 

Although the cooperatives produce sustainable products, they focus primarily on individual product lines instead of harnessing the diversity of potentially profitable products. Cultivation and processing are usually performed manually, so smallholders can earn only very little in the cooperatives. In addition, many of them have lacked the knowledge to meet the strict requirements of environmental legislation. Companies that source the sustainably produced raw materials they require from the Amazon are dependent on reliable supply chains. The smallholders must meet sustainability criteria and adhere to quality standards.


Sustainable use and regeneration of natural resources is ensured in cooperation with the private sector. Smallholders and traditional communities in the Amazon preserve the rainforests and supply renewable raw materials to industry.  


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

The partners are supporting cooperatives in diversifying their products and increasing their profitability. The project promotes technological innovations to improve the quality of products. The cooperatives are also using the by-products generated during the processing of plant-based raw materials to develop new products, thus harnessing the full economic potential of a given plant species.

The project is using organisational development and staff training to improve the skills of the cooperatives. It is assisting smallholders and cooperatives in meeting the environmental regulations, for example by registering their land in the environmental register. In the field, the advisory team is helping farmers to improve processes and ensuring close cooperation between the institutions involved. 

Natura provides advice on technical issues and processing. The cosmetics manufacturer is introducing quality standards for each of the products and promoting better cultivation, harvesting and production methods. The company is supporting production processes for plant species that have not previously been used. Symrise is helping to develop new methods and technologies to improve processing. Production waste is being examined to establish whether it is suitable for creating by-products and establishing new value chains. 

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


To date, the project has achieved the following results:

  • The financial viability of babassu oil production in the Coopcao cooperative was assessed by means of tests and potential analyses. The analysis also took into account the use of by-products from oil production. The project is supporting implementation of a marketing strategy and direct contact between the cooperative and the potential buyers. It is currently looking into technical and economic requirements to adapt production to food hygiene standards and thus tap new sales markets. 
  • Technical options for increasing the effectiveness of drying facilities for andiroba seeds were tested during the 2019 harvest season. Adapted drying techniques have reduced drying times, allowing the cooperatives to process larger quantities in a shorter time. An innovative solar dryer model for smallholder production in smaller quantities is currently under development. 
  • An extensive training and advisory programme has been developed and implemented to promote the management skills of the cooperatives’ management boards. Seventy-five board members from 17 cooperatives in the state of Pará have already received training. 
  • Some of the cooperatives are receiving individual advice to improve their marketing and tap new markets. This resulted in the cooperatives RECA, CEPOTX and COPOAM taking part in the BioFach trade fair in Nuremburg. In addition, the project is working together with the cooperatives to improve their communications strategy and develop business plans. 
  • The project combines modern drone technology and participatory methods to strengthen the producers’ ability to manage their production units, for example using inventory analyses and creating maps. 
  • Up to now, 12 cooperatives have been advised on environmental legislation and 302 families have been entered in the environmental register.

Latest update: October 2020

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