What is Palm Oil?
You may not know what it is or where it comes from, but you almost certainly eat or use palm oil on a regular basis.
It's the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet and half of all packaged products contain it – from ice cream and instant to shampoo and lipstick. As our global population increases and becomes wealthier, the demand for palm oil is set to skyrocket. Indonesia and Malaysia produce 86% of the world’s palm oil and it is crucial to their economies. It has created extensive employment, elevating many people from the depths of poverty. Palm oil is cheap and has a wide range of applications which has made it a very popular choice by manufacturers and retailers.
But why is palm oil considered 'evil'?
Palm oil is grown in the tropics, and clearing for plantations has destroyed vast swathes of rich, green rainforest. Palm oil plantations are expanding more rapidly than almost any other agricultural commodity. Resident species like , , rhinos and have lost their homes and some Indigenous peoples have fared little better, being forced off their land and robbed of their livelihoods. The felling and burning of trees also exacerbated .
Global production and demand for palm oil increasing rapidly. Plantations are spreading across Asia, Africa and Latin America, which is threatening the habitats of several endangered species like , and . Around 90% of the world's oil palm trees are grown on a few islands in Malaysia and Indonesia – islands containing some of the greatest biodiversity on Earth. Here, there is a direct relationship between the growth of oil palm estates and .
Intensive palm oil production is also creating all kinds of environmental fall-out, including air, soil and water pollution, and soil erosion. On a regional scale, palm oil production has also been associated with robbing Indigenous people of their land and livelihoods. Globally, it’s making a sizeable contribution to .
As an individual, you can:
- Help to raise awareness of the
- Shop sustainably
- Tell the companies that make your favourite products that you want to see them use CSPO rather than conventional palm oil
- Support those that have made a strong commitment to CSPO.
As a business, you can:
- Join the and become an active member
- Make sure all your palm oil use is certified under any of the CSPO supply chain options
- Set a target and timetable to move to segregated sustainable palm oil
- Be transparent in reporting your palm oil use and take responsibility for all the palm oil in the products you sell
- Buy from certified RSPO member growers that are going beyond the basic requirements of the RSPO and committing to credible, independently verified standards like the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) Charter or RSPO NEXT
- Raise awareness of the RSPO and CSPO globally.