What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from the kernels of oil palm trees.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest palm oil producers and global demand for this commodity is increasing every year partly due to the expanding biofuel market.

Orangutan populations are threatened because their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, is being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations. By the beginning of 2004, there were 6.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations across Sumatra and Borneo. Of this total area, almost 4 million hectares had previously been forested. Orangutans and the majority of biodiversity supported by tropical rainforests cannot co-exist with oil palm plantations. The use of fire to clear land for plantations is an additional risk to this already serious threat.

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from the kernels of oil palm trees.

 Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from the kernels of oil palm trees.

 

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest palm oil producers and global demand for this commodity is increasing every year partly due to the expanding biofuel market.

 Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest palm oil producers

 

Orangutan populations are threatened because their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, is being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations. By the beginning of 2004, there were 6.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations across Sumatra and Borneo. Of this total area, almost 4 million hectares had previously been forested. Orangutans and the majority of biodiversity supported by tropical rainforests cannot co-exist with oil palm plantations. The use of fire to clear land for plantations is an additional risk to this already serious threat.

 

Orangutan populations are threatened because their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, is being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations.

 


SHOULD I AVOID PALM OIL?

The production of unsustainable palm oil is the biggest threat to the survival of the critically endangered orangutan due to the large scale destruction and conversion of its rainforest habitat.

In the past palm oil only had to be labelled as vegetable oil or it might appear as one of the ingredients listed below, by WWF, thus making it difficult and confusing for consumers.

 

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

 

Sustainably produced palm oil takes responsibility for conserving biodiversity, complying with recommendations suggested by the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil www.rspo.org/about). Coalitions such as this strive to protect primary rainforest habitat through restricting deforestation of these areas and protecting local communities and workers, whilst still fulfilling global demand.

Since December 2014, EU companies must state whether they use palm oil (but not whether it’s sustainable) in their products. It is hoped that this new labelling requirement will encourage companies to switch to buying sustainable palm oil and then declare this on their packaging. This will then encourage the growth of sustainable oil palm plantations.

As far as we are aware, full details on UK companies that commit to using certified sustainable palm oil has not yet been released. Greenpeace have produced a palm oil scorecard which can help consumers with their decisions (www.greenpeace.org.uk/sites/files/gpuk/palm-oil-scorecard-FINAL.pdf).

 

All products that you can purchase on our online shop (shop.orangutan.org.uk/) are ethically produced, and all soaps and skincare items are palm oil free. The Nature and Nurture range are natural, organic, free from animal testing and 100% free from palm oil and all its derivatives. 

 All products that you can purchase on our online shop (http://shop.orangutan.org.uk/) are ethically produced, and all soaps and skincare items are palm oil free.

 

The Leaping Bunny logo, devised by Cruelty Free International (CFI), can be found on all products that avoid animal testing. They have a really handy smartphone app, and you can search by company or by product, which is really useful when you're out shopping! CFI do not currently require that companies involved state their avoidance of unsustainable palm oil. Despite this most companies associated do mention their use of sustainable palm oil or avoidance.

Ethical Consumer provide a helpful list of UK companies, including those to avoid (www.ethicalconsumer.org/shoppingethically/palmoilfreelist.aspx).

 

DISCLAIMER: At the Orangutan Foundation, our experience in Indonesia suggests that each oil palm plantation operates differently, some more sustainably than others. Therefore, we do not advocate avoidance entirely of these products, as many individuals depend on the growth of oil-palm for their livelihood. The view of the Foundation is that the production of palm oil should not be at the expense of primary forest, and ought to be performed only on already degraded land.

 

 

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