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Palm oil| Palm oil
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Palm oil| Palm oil

Orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species are affected by habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict that stems from palm oil plantations.

FFrom mince pies to biscuits, to lipstick and soap to soap, palm oil from south-east Asia is hard to avoid at Christmas. Nearly half of all packaged goods in UK supermarkets contain vegetable oil. According to WWF.

A growing number of cities and towns are attempting to use sustainable palm oil to help orangutans and Sumatran rhinos, as well as other endangered species.

Chester, north-west England’s leader The first sustainable palm oil city in the worldRestaurants, small businesses, and arts venues are joining forces in an effort to eliminate deforestation-linked vegetable oil from their supply chain. Chester’s first certified Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) school dinner provider has already signed up. Chester’s example is being followed by Oxford, Plymouth, and Mochdre, north Wales. More are expected to follow.

Catherine Barton, Chester Zoo’s field conservation manager, said that the palm oil situation is a serious problem. She was inspired to lead the sustainable city campaign by a trip to Malaysian Borneo. Plantations are separating the forest elephants from orangutans. When they move into these areas, there is often conflict between humans and wildlife. We thought of ourselves as users because we worked with communities. [of palm oil]We can attempt to change the industry.

Orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species are affected by habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict that stems from palm oil plantations.
Habitat loss and conflict between humans and wildlife, which stems from palm oil plantations, can affect Sumatran rhinos, tigers, and other endangered species like Orangutans and Sumatran tigers. Photograph: Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/Rhoi/REX/Shutterstock

The UK is a relatively small consumer of mainly sustainably produced palm oil. Globally, palm oils are mainly produced in Indonesia or Malaysia. However, the RSPO has not certified that they are sustainably sustainable. Companies such as Iceland has stoppedBarton believes that bans on palm oil are not the solution. Instead, making sustainable palm oil the default ingredient for products from baby formula to shampoo would have a greater impact on conservation and support communities that rely upon the palm fruit crop.

Chester Zoo has helped small businesses like a Welsh fudge producer and an animal feed provider to review their supply chains and adapt them with the goal of removing all non-RSPO certified palm oils.

Quick Guide

Palm oil


What is palm oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oils made from oil palm trees. It is originally from Africa. It can be made from the oil palm fruit flesh or from the kernel of the oil palm tree. 

Palm oil is one the most popular ingredients in the world. It is also the most efficient vegetable oil to cultivate, requiring far less space than other options like maize and rape seeds. However, large areas have been cleared of rainforest for its production.

What is the composition of palm oil?

Palm oil is all around and is often not clearly identified. It is possible to find it in detergents, ice-cream, and biofuel. WWF produces A list of products that probably contain palm oil.

How can I prevent deforestation-linked palm oils?

Although palm oil production causes a lot of environmental damage, many conservation NGOs warn against boycotting it. WWF, Chester Zoo, and other conservation NGOs advocate sustainable palm oil that has been accredited by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This should be clearly labeled on products.

We appreciate your feedback.

Barton states that if you leave the UK without palm oil, it will not have an impact on the industry and orangutans. As an NGO, it is important that we are part of this conversation. We use Europe and the UK to influence the industry, rather than removing ourselves from it. Barton emphasizes that palm oil is far more productive than other crops like rapeseed and maize.

Large areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries have been cleared for palm oil plantations. This has resulted in huge greenhouse gas emissions.

Cop26 in Glasgow was a gathering of world leaders who pledged to stop and reverse the deforestation and degradation until 2030. To achieve this goal, it will be crucial to greening global supply chains. The RSPO certification certifies both producers and consumers of sustainable palm oils to help preserve standing forests. The UK government Consultation on plansTo ban large companies using illegally deforested land products.

Smouldering peatland following a suspected land clearance fire in Kampar, Sumatra, in 2019.
A smoldering peatland was left after a suspected land-clearance fire in Kampar, Sumatra in 2019.Photograph by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

Jason Ellison, owner of a French restaurant Chez JulesChester was one of the first to sign up for the campaign. He explained that he needed to review his supply chain in order to find palm oil in unusual locations.

I’m not a scientist. The zoo was very helpful. They gave us a list with all the places you would find palm oil in bread, cake mix, baking products. We use digestive biscuits to make one of our desserts. We were zooming in.

Edsential is a social enterprise that provides school meals in Chester. Its managing director Ian McGrady believes that becoming the first RSPO certified school food provider in England has helped educate children about where their food comes.

We want to make sure that the school meal is linked to field conservation so that children see that if made a decision, they can make an impact on the ground. He says that ethical sourcing tends to be more important than cost, even within schools. We worked with major suppliers to find out where they stood in terms of certification and palm oil. It is possible.

Follow biodiversity reporters to get more coverage on the age of extinction Phoebe WestonAnd Patrick GreenfieldFollow Twitter for the latest news and features

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