Sustainable Palm Oil Project
7th March, 2019
We at Aaron and Partners are committed to the Sustainable Palm Oil City project in Chester.
We are working with our suppliers to ensure that where palm oil is present in our cleaning supplies and food, it will be sourced from sustainable sources.
By doing so we know that we are helping to protect wildlife around the world from the impact of unsustainable agricultural practices and helping Chester become the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City.
What’s Good About Palm Oil?
Up to 50% of products in an average UK supermarket now contain palm oil, this is due to palm oil being cheap and efficient and it is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil. Palm oil is everywhere, from cosmetics to cleaning supplies and even in what we eat.
Oil palm trees are highly productive and the yield per square kilometre is higher than for any other edible oil. It requires fewer pesticides and fertilisers to grow, meaning palm oil has the potential to become very environmentally friendly if it is grown sustainably.
Agriculture for crops such as oil palm is also hugely important for the economy of tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, helping them to achieve their development goals.
What’s Bad About Palm Oil?
The high demand for palm oil has resulted in rapid and unregulated growth of oil palm plantations. Around 85% of the world’s palm oil growth is in Malaysia and Indonesia. Rainforests which were home to orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos have been demolished to make way for plantations.
The new plantations contain just a fraction of the flora and fauna of rainforests and cannot sustain the native wildlife.
When the forests are cleared and peatlands drained to make way for plantations, carbon is released contributing significantly to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming. In addition to illegal fires being lit and spreading smoke across South East Asia which impacts human health and biodiversity, there are social implications to the oil palm plantations.
Workers often live in poor conditions with hardly any access to basic facilities and conflict often happens between local workers and large companies over rights to the land.
If we were to stop using palm oil, we would need to find an alternative to supply the global demand for edible vegetable oils. Other oil crops, such as sunflowers and maize are less productive per square kilometre.
Demand globally for palm oil means a boycott of palm oil would have limited / no impact on how palm oil is grown. Our best chance at creating change and protecting wildlife is to demand sustainably produced palm oil and improve standards to better wildlife.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has started to produce and source palm oil more sustainably. They have developed sustainability standards for palm oil which has minimal impact on wildlife, local people and the environment.
Buying only products that contain certified sustainable palm oil is an important first step in the journey to protect animals like orangutans and others that share its rainforest habitat.
What Can You Do?
Thanks to recent changes in EU legislation every food product sold to the public in the UK that contains palm oil must have ‘palm oil’ listed on the packaging. Some will state that their palm oil is certified sustainable but others don’t.
Check out Chester Zoo’s handy shopping list here – when you’re next out shopping, swap unsustainable products for sustainable ones just by checking the label.
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