A new certification scheme has been launched to independently verify products that contain no palm oil.

Unveiled to coincide with World Orangutan Day on 19 August, the new labelling scheme is now in operation in Australia and the UK following approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), IP Australia, and IPO UK.

A further 14 countries have applications pending to introduce the label in their markets.

Dubbed the Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP), the not-for-profit initiative has been set up by a group of women campaigning to address the environmental issues created by palm oil production.

POFCAP said that despite some improvements to tackle palm oil-related deforestation, progress had been “slow and arduous for many complex reasons".

"After a decade of work, only 17% of all palm oil used can be classed as 'non-conflict' however many millions of hectares of rainforest have undoubtedly been saved by their efforts," the group added.

Australia-based eco cleaning products company Clean Conscience had become the first firm to carry the label, and POFCAP said it was working with a host of other companies on certification.

Once a company applied for certification of its product, it would be submitted to the POFCAP certification process, which would thoroughly trace all potential palm oil and palm oil derivative ingredients back to their source, utilising a number of trusted methods.

"POFCAP does not certify a product solely on a 'palm oil free' statement from an ingredient manufacturer as experience and research has shown this method does not always produce correct results," the group said.

The aim was for POFCAP to sit alongside other trademarks such as Cruelty-Free, Certified Organic, Vegan and Fair Trade.