What is sustainable palm oil?

what is sustainable palm oil
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What is sustainable palm oil? Linked to the rise of palm oil, the demand for vegetable oil is increasing worldwide, which uses up to 20% of arable land globally—making vegetable oil a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. Many vegetables can make vegetable oil, but the oil palm tree is the most proficient and, therefore, most used.

PalmOil Scan App

The new initiative from Chester Zoo – The PalmOil Sacn app, developed by Chester Zoo to help drive change from significant companies in sustainability. Scan the bar code to see how the manufacturer has sourced palm oil!

Who are the RSPO?

 The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are a global none for profit organisation aiming to improve how companies produce palm oil worldwide by  bringing together stakeholders from across the supply chain.

Sustainable Shops

Chester Zoo have also created a pdf, which you can get here, covering the sustainable companies and brands who are using sustainable palm oil. Many of which are from the UK who are leading the was in palm oil from sustainable sources.y

What is palm oil?

Palm oil comes from a fruit produced by the oil palm tree. The oil’s lack of taste or smell makes it perfect for products like cake, chocolate and margarine. It can also be semi-solid at room temperature, making it easy to transport and use for products like margarine. Palm oil produces a greater yield using less land and resources than other products like rapeseed.

Due to its versatility, being cheap and easy to grow, palm oil is the most popular product to use & demand is only increasing.

Is palm oil sustainable?

Believe it or not, yes, palm oil is sustainable. However, due to global demand, palm oil is the most widely cultivated and has the most significant effect. Some push for a boycott, which will only lead to several adverse effects. 

A similar product like rapeseed would have to use up to nine times more space to achieve the exact yield of palm oil. Which means even more demand on land and resources.

Many economies like Borneo and Sumatra rely on palm oil for stability. Boycotting this resource would drive prices down and increase demand in areas with less incentive to grow palm oil sustainably.

Due to its high demand, palm oil is causing mass deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitats, including the orangutans & many indigenous bird species. 

What is palm oil used for?

Many products use palm oil, from food to hygiene products, due to its ability to be both liquid and solid at a relatively high temperature. This makes it perfect for products like margarine. Another property of palm oil that makes it a favourite among manufacturers is its lack of smell or taste. Which is essential in edible and scented products.

What has palm oil in it?

Over 50% of all products on UK shelves contain palm oil at some level particularly products like:

  • Shampoo
  • Ice Cream
  • Cakes
  • Bread
  • Baby Formula

All contain palm oil, and this is to give you an idea the number of household items that contain palm oil is surprising.

What is Sustainable Palm oil?

Sustainable palm oil is grown following mandatory regulations on sustainability, which include being deforestation-free. Farmers must reduce the impact caused on the environment during palm oil cultivation, and companies must adhere to human rights laws.

The term sustainable palm oil comes from the regulations set out by both institutions in Malaysia and Indonesia, along with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). While they both have mandatory standards in the area. The RSPO is the most widely recognised for its high standards, which require producers to be deforestation-free.

What does sustainable palm oil mean?

Sustainable palm oil means the company producing palm oil has values and standards for the environment and human rights. If a product or company is marked as eco friendly by the RSPO, then it is also deforestation-free & helps protect the forests and animals like orangutans in countries like Borneo and Sumatra that produce palm oil.

Which companies use sustainable palm oil

Thankfully the number of companies using responsably sourced palm oil is growing fast nevertheless with some powerful brands taking the lead in the UK. You can find sustainably sourced palm oil in products from companies like:

  • 2 Sisters Food Group
  • Addo Food Group
  • Arla Foods
  • Burton’s Foods Ltd
  • Danone
  • Dominos
  • GmbH & Co. KG.
  • Greggs
  • HARIBO Produktions
  • Hovis Ltd
  • Kellogg Company
  • L’Oreal
  • Mars, Incorporated
  • PepsiCo
  • Premier Foods
  • Quorn Foods Ltd
  • Samworth Brothers (Holdings) Limited (brands like Ginsters & Soreen)
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Unilever
  • Valeo Confectionery Limited
  • Warburtons Holding Limited

The sustainable shopping list

You can find more companies on the Chester Zoo Shopping list – The sustainable palm oil shopping list.

Who are the RSPO?

Malaysia and Indonesia have set out mandatory standards to follow for the cultivation of palm oil to align with modern ecological standards. However, the most widely recognised governing body is the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Palm oil produced according to these standards as of 2018 must be deforestation-free.

Chester Zoo sustainable Palm oil

Chester Zoo, local to me at the Backyard Farmer, launched its sustainable palm oil campaign in 2012. Even then, they knew palm oil production would be a big problem. As a major force in stopping extinction and curbing humans’ negative impact on biodiversity, Chester Zoo knows that the unsustainable production of palm oil plays a significant role in this and therefore taking action.

You can read more about Chester Zoo’s fantastic work here

Related articles: Top 3 Sustainable Clothing Companies, How to make eco friendly cleaning products, How to live sustainably in the UK, Image by Freepik, Image by alicia_mb on Freepik

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