8 reasons why we need to avoid palm oil
Avoiding palm oil can be a difficult thing to do. Palm oil is in more than half of the processed goods on supermarkets shelves. As ethical consumers have begun to boycott products containing palm oil, many businesses have hidden it under different names in their ingredients lists. In fact, palm oil can appear under 500 different ingredient names.
Palm oil is one of the most environmentally destructive ingredients. Here are 8 reasons why we need to avoid palm oil:
Palm oil is leading to unprecedented deforestation
Oil palms are mostly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia where there are large areas of rainforest that's home to tigers, orangutan and other vulnerable species. Palm oil companies have been destroying these rainforests to create more land to grow oil palm trees. In fact, an area the size of the UK has been destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, according to official figures from the Indonesian government. Palm oil and paper companies are the main causes of this destruction. Palm oil production has increased 15-fold between 1980 and 2014 and is expected to increase without drastic action.
Palm oil deforestation has made orangutan critically endangered
A century ago there were approximately 230,000 orangutan in total. In just 16 years, 100 000 Bornean orangutan were wiped out due to human activity, making them endangered. There are just 7500 Sumatran Orangutang left (Critically Endangered). A third species of orangutan was discovered in 2017. With no more than 800 individuals in existence, the Tapanuli orangutan is the most endangered of all great apes.
Other animals are at risk from the palm oil industry too
Globally, 193 critically endangered, threatened and vulnerable species are threatened by palm oil production. More than 75% of Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo national park has been converted into illegal palm oil plantations. It's home to endangered species including tigers, orangutan and elephants.
Palm oil is the world's most widely used 'vegetable oil'
Palm oil is great for big businesses because it’s cheap and versatile. Palm oil is used in many everyday products including shampoo, bread, cleaning products, toothpaste, detergent and chocolate. Millions of tonnes of palm oil are also going into the tanks of people’s cars. More than 50% of palm oil coming into Europe (but not the UK) is for biofuel.
The palm oil industry is worth $60 billion dollars (yep, with a b)
Palm oil is often framed as an industry that lifts many small farmers in developing countries out of poverty. But the reality is, the palm oil industry is dominated by big suppliers.
Indigenous peoples are losing access to their ancestral lands
Indigenous communities in Indonesia have reported violence, exploitation, loss of access to their ancestral lands and even deaths caused by contamination of water from palm oil processing plants.
Sustainable palm oil might not actually be sustainable
According to environmental groups, investigative journalists and whistleblowers, there are many holes that allow unsustainable palm oil to be fed into certified sustainable palm oil supply chains. Researchers from Purdue University in the US found palm oil plantations with eco-friendly endorsements have lost 38% of their forest cover since 2007 while non-certified areas have lost 34%.
The RSPO has received scathing criticism from activists and environmental groups
The RSPO has been accused by Friends of the Earth of "being used by the palm oil industry to greenwash corporate destruction and human rights abuses, while it continues to expand business, forest destruction and profits".
Greenpeace says RSPO members participate in deforestation, launder dirty palm oil into global supplies and fail to prevent peatland and forest fires.
WWF has quoted a report that found trucks with illegal palm fruit bunches drove up to 128 km and spent up to 5 days on the road to reach dozens of certified sustainable palm oil mills.
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Now you know why we need to avoid palm oil, but actually doing this can be a tricky thing. The secret is finding brands that are completely palm oil-free. Good news, you've just found one! CONCENTR8ED eco bars are formulated without palm oil because we want to allow ordinary people to vote with their money. We're also plastic-free and toxic chemical-free because we heart the ocean too.