From brink to bright: The future of Indian sandalwood is brought into focus

Published: 21-Feb-2022

Quintis has a great track record and past examples of innovative success with implementing sustainable practices, keeping their mission at the heart of what they do

Global leader in the supply of Indian sandalwood, Quintis has developed its 10-year sustainability plan to ensure the future of the species, which is on the brink of extinction in the wild due to illegal harvesting.

The Hands on the Future sustainability report explores the actions needed to prioritise the long-term supply of Indian sandalwood and the sustainable evolution of the communities and environments in which Quintis operates.

The report looks at some of the key achievements Quintis has already made and also identifies three key focus areas – Community, Carbon and Sustainable Production - to create its overarching sustainability vision.

Within these three focus areas, Quintis has committed to reducing its impact on the environment, improve wellbeing for all, educating the leaders of tomorrow, championing equal opportunity for all, and a strong and transparent corporate governance for the industry more broadly, while empowering local communities to be sustainable.

Indian sandalwood was listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998 after illegal trading and overharvesting of the species. After planting the first Indian sandalwood trees in the tropical north of Australia, the ideal climate and conditions for this species to flourish, Quintis now has over 5 million trees across its sustainable plantations.

The plantations remove an estimated 195,000 tonnes of CO2 from the earth’s atmosphere each year.

Quintis CEO, Richard Henfrey, said sustainability has always been at the heart of Quintis’ business strategy.

“By caring for and nurturing our forests for over two decades, we are delivering value across multiple dimensions and building a truly sustainable business. We have now reached a scale and level of development where these foundations are delivering real and tangible benefits.

“We strive to lead the way in the steady supply of Indian sandalwood through a range of various initiatives. Our Hands on the Future Report reflects our ongoing commitment to bringing sustainability to the forefront of the industry. Whilst the report is a celebration of our achievements, more importantly it highlights our commitment to continuous improvement against our three pillars.”

Reducing the environmental impact through preserving natural resources reducing waste

“Our commitment to reducing energy consumption at our processing plants by at least 40% per kilo of product produced for the life of the plant is in place to help our climate as it goes through much faster changes than anyone anticipated, even 10 years ago. We recognise that excess emissions of carbon add to heating the planet and creating negative effects and we want to be able to do our part to reduce it,” continues Mr Henfrey.

Innovative Initiatives

One way that Quintis is tackling this is through their innovative distillation technology which reduces energy consumption by as much as 75% while continuing to produce their sandalwood oil at the highest quality.

“Working alongside the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), we are also reviewing our package use across the company and working together to develop a plan that will assist us in meeting recycling targets by December 2022, as set out in this report,” Mr Henfrey said.

Targets for this goal include 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging with 70% of plastic packaging also being recycled or composted. All packaging will need to include an average of 50% recycled content and no more use of unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

Turning biomass waste into biochar

Quintis has a great track record and past examples of innovative success with implementing sustainable practices, keeping their mission at the heart of what they do. With this report, they will aim to finalise their Biomass Pyrolysis project, which includes creating and utilising biochar - made from host trees and waste biomass - within soil to remove carbon dioxide that would have been emitted into the atmosphere.

“The use of biochar can cut down greenhouse emissions and assist in curbing climate change. Through this initiative we aim to turn at least 50% of biomass material produced from our plantations into biochar by December 2026,” states Mr Henfrey.

Removing chemical intervention when protecting trees from pest damage

“When it comes to protecting our trees from pest damage, we use a combination of cultural, biological, and chemical technologies to reduce pest damage, with our first defence being the biological kind which includes pest control through insects. This is where we introduce insects into our plantations as a means of pest management, reducing the requirement for chemical pesticides,” Mr Henfrey explains.

Through this process Quintis has addressed the impact of pests in a natural way, and by removing chemical intervention has been able to recognise and nurture the beneficial species of insects that are positive to the ecosystems that keep the plantations thriving.

Joining a targeted effort of organisations across the globe

“Our sustainability goals and efforts are naturally aligned with a high number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the international sustainability standard.

This allows us to achieve our own goals with purpose and action, giving tangible benchmarks for comparison and keeping us accountable,” Mr Henfrey said.

Indian sandalwood oil is quickly gaining a reputation as an excellent active ingredient in the personal care space, with a range of proven benefits.

Other plans on Quintis’s horizon include new research on sandalwood's mood-enhancing benefits, developing Indian sandalwood powder for use in cosmetics, and creating two STEM-related scholarships at tertiary institutions by July 2026.

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