5 Dec 2019

We’ve been celebrating as Oxford and Newquay have committed to become Sustainable Palm Oil Cities and towns – following a model developed for the city of Chester by wildlife conservationists here at the zoo. 

We’ve been celebrating as Oxford and Newquay have committed to become Sustainable Palm Oil Cities and towns – following a model developed for the city of Chester by wildlife conservationists here at the zoo.

The major initiative – spearheaded by conservationists at Chester Zoo – is designed to protect wildlife habitats and prevent the extinction of species such as orangutans. Unsustainable production of palm oil is wiping out huge areas of rainforest – in order to provide the ingredient for food and household products consumed in the UK and around the world.

Chester became world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City earlier this year. Now, Oxford, and Newquay are the first to commit to the scheme as it rolls out nationwide. The movement requires restaurants, schools, workplaces and attractions across each city to support sustainable palm oil, which conservationists proclaim is the best way to prevent habitat destruction for wildlife such as orangutans.

Conservationists from the zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities project, led by independent group Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming.


This is a turning point in the fight to prevent extinction. When the city of Chester came together to become the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City earlier this year, we knew it was just the start. 

Cat Barton, Field Programmes Manager

“The campaign in Chester has helped businesses to influence their suppliers to switch to sustainable ingredients. These changes have then been passed along the chain to other customers. It’s a snowball effect.”

“Now we will see that effect spread around the UK. We are on the cusp of making sustainable palm oil the norm.”

“Thank you to the pioneering leaders in Chester, Oxford and Newquay for taking action. We are also in talks with a number of major global cities. Action is urgent, but it is not too late to save species.”

Conservationists have long advocated that embracing sustainable palm oil and halting deforestation is the best solution to the palm oil crisis. If consumers and organisations were to stop using palm oil entirely, an alternative supply would need to be found for the global demand for edible vegetable oils. Because other oil crops – such as coconuts, soya, olives, sunflowers and maize – are less productive per square kilometre, even more land would need to be converted to agriculture.


From orangutans to hornbills, wildlife is under threat. We are on the brink of losing some species forever. Rainforests are being wiped out to produce palm oil for the food and household items we all consume every day.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chief Executive Officer

“Boycotting palm oil will push the problems elsewhere, so the only way to prevent extinction is to embrace sustainable palm oil.

“Sometimes environmental issues make people feel powerless. But with palm oil, we can all make a difference. By embracing a more sustainable future, we can stop this crisis.”

More than 50 organisations in Chester signed the sustainable palm oil pledge earlier in 2019. Restaurants and food outlets throughout the city now display the campaign logo in their shop windows – to help raise awareness among consumers and to enable sustainable choices.

Larger organisations in the city have also embraced the scheme, including school meal food providers Edsential, who provide more than 5.5 million meals for children each year. In a significant next step, conservation leaders in Oxford and Newquay have now committed to achieving Sustainable Palm Oil City status too. The campaign is backed by conservationists at the Orangutan Land Trust and the Sumatran Orangutan Society, and is endorsed by prominent wildlife organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), as well as palm oil sustainability consultants Murdoch Associates and Efeca.


If you’re interested in getting your town or city to become a Sustainable Palm Oil City, then find out more about how to get started…



This Christmas, swap your unsustainable products for sustainable ones, without jeopardising your Christmas indulgence! Download our detailed shopping list to see what chocolate, biscuits or butter brands contain 100% RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

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NOW is the time to ACT FOR WILDLIFE. Conservation is CRITICAL; species are under threat. TOGETHER we can make a BIG difference. Take action TODAY and join us in PREVENTING EXTINCTION.