Sustainable Palm Oil
Why is sustainable palm oil so important to us? Palm oil is a widely used vegetable oil. Palm oil is a key ingredient in everything from cooking oil, cosmetics, household cleaners, and snacks; and is in 50% of all packaged food items in grocery stores. 85% of all palm oil produced worldwide comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. However, when unregulated, its cultivation is connected to deforestation, air and water pollution, soil erosion, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.
Sustainably cultivated palm oil protects the environment and wildlife from harsh practices while maintaining the crop's benefits and supporting its global demand.
Palm Oil, the Rainforest, & Carbon Emissions
The oil palm tree grows in tropical areas near the equator. Rainforests are being cleared for palm oil plantations. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the equivalent of 300 football fields of rainforest are razed every hour to make way for more plantations. The easiest way of clearing land for a plantation is to burn it, thus releasing the carbon stored in the peat soil beneath the rainforest into the atmosphere. Because intact rainforests absorb more carbon than they expel, this is detrimental for efforts to reverse climate change. Indonesia ranks third highest in greenhouse gas emissions due to this practice.
Not only does the destruction of the rainforest contribute to carbon emissions, but it also negatively effects our biodiversity. 80% of Earth’s terrestrial species live in rainforests. As the rainforest disappears so do these species. The loss of their habitat is especially detrimental to endangered species that dwell there, like the orangutan.
Palm Oil & Orangutans
Orangutans are the only great apes residing outside of Africa. They live on the Indonesian Islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In 2018, there were an estimated of 7,500 individual Sumatran orangutans and 57,000 individual Bornean orangutans in the wild. In 2017, a third species of orangutan was discovered, the Tapanuli orangutan, isolated in the Batang Toru forests of Sumatra, with a population of only 800 individuals. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies orangutans as “critically endangered.”
As their rainforest habitat disappears, displaced orangutans impinge on human communities looking for food and shelter, making them an easier target for hunting and the illegal pet trade.
- Highest-yielding vegetable crop. The oil palm tree produces at least 4x more oil than other vegetable oil crops. Switching to a different crop such as soy or sunflower would risk more forest being converted into agricultural land.
- Helps reduce poverty. The palm oil industry employs 6 million people worldwide, 75% of which are from Indonesia and Malaysia. The farmers and families that rely on the palm oil for an income would suffer without the means to work.
Sustainable Palm Oil
In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) brought together stakeholders from across the palm oil industry to develop a plan to move towards eliminating the negative impacts of palm oil cultivation. They established criteria for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). To qualify for certification growers must offer their employees a decent wage, protective equipment, and health care, and they cannot expand onto fragile ecosystems or high value conservation areas. Grower certification qualifications are reassessed every five years to maintain credibility to the customers.
Sustainable palm oil: conserves the environment and wildlife, protects local communities and workers, maintains food affordability, while fulfilling the crop's increasing global demand.
Currently only 19% of all the palm oil is RSPO certified. You can find out which companies are taking steps to implement solutions here at the Palm Oil Buyer’s Scorecard website.
WholeMade is dedicated to using certified sustainable palm oil in our natural bath and body products.
- Hello WholeMade