03 September 2015

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It is widely used in our food, cosmetics and household products. In fact, 50% of supermarket products contain palm oil!

Fresh palm fruit. Photo credit: Mongabay.com
Fresh palm fruit. Photo credit: Mongabay.com

The growing demand for palm oil has seen plantations replace natural forests destroying the homes of orangutans, tigers and many more species throughout the island. But this problem isn’t just affecting the biodiversity of these islands; it’s occurring across South East Asia and is spreading across the world, back into Africa where it originated, and also into South American countries.

 Deforestation for oil palm development. Photo credit: Mongabay.com
Deforestation for oil palm development. Photo credit: Mongabay.com

Can it be sustainable?

As the cheapest, most high yielding and versatile vegetable oil on the market and with demand increasing every year, there is an urgent need for all palm oil to be grown and managed sustainably. The most widely recognised certification standards have been developed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which aims to protect primary forests, areas of high conservation value and the rights of local communities and plantation workers.

Canopy of an oil palm plantation. Photo credit: Mongabay.com
Canopy of an oil palm plantation. Photo credit: Mongabay.com

Engaging with various stakeholders locally, nationally and globally to find solutions to this conservation problem is one way in which Chester Zoo has been a part of influencing many sectors in the chain.  We work with national and international zoos, field partners, food suppliers, schools, local companies and environmental non-government organisation’s (NGO) to influence and create a demand for sustainable palm oil.

Palm Oil Challenge

We have launched the Palm Oil Challenge; a way of celebrating the companies who are already committed to 100% RSPO certified sustainable palm oil, supporting those that want to be sustainable and making it easier for you to choose sustainable palm oil products.

Challenge 1: SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL SHOPPING LIST

Challenge 2: GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL RESTAURANTS

Challenge 3: THE GREEN GOLD CONSPIRACY

Look, Check Act!
Get involved with our palm oil challenge here.