We are palm oil free. Why? Read on. One in ten mass produced foods on shelves in British supermarkets are estimated to contain palm oil, and each year the demand for palm oil grows worldwide. The result is the burning of vast tracts of virgin forest in Malaysia and Indonesia to create space for ever larger palm oil plantations to supply that demand. Found in everything from digestives to shampoo, from Pot Noodles to KitKats, these products are contributing to the devastation of the natural habitats of thousands of creatures. Perhaps the most iconic of these creatures is the orang-utan, who is being killed at the rate of an estimated 5,000 a year! According to Friends of the Earth there are now fewer than 60,000 orang-utans left, even basic maths tells us that if this is true then the orang-utan has less than 12 years left before they are extinct!
Palm oil is used in so many products that boycotting it would prove unworkable, particularly since palm oil rarely appears as palm oil on labels, all too often it is hidden under the term “vegetable oil”. Some retailers have signed up to use “sustainable palm oil” in an increasing number of their products by joining RSPO, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
However, there are charges from Greenpeace that:
the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is little more than “greenwash”.
They claim that United Plantations and Sinar Mas, both of whom receive RSPO certification, are heavily involved in deforestation in the vulnerable peatland forests of Kalimantan. United Plantations supplies both Nestle and Unilever.
Peatland forests are huge carbon sinks and the destruction of the forests and the soils that they grow on results in huge emissions of greenhouse gases, making Indonesia the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after the United States and China.
Claims like this are hard to ignore, and although RSPO were co-initiated by the WWF, whose intentions are good, the balance of power in the organisation is definitely with those who have a vested interest in palm oil. Membership can be purchased by any interested party, applications must be approved by the RSPO executive board, which is dominated by palm oil producers. Can we trust these palm oil producers to police themselves?
Another concern for us is the continued support that the WWF continues to show RSPO as they continue to campaign for EU countries to achieve an agrofuel target of 10% by 2020. Palm oil as a biofuel does not make environmental sense when its growth is causing so much damage.
While these concerns over palm oils impact on the environment continue to rage we will be making our stand against its use in products where the manufacturers have alternatives.
Our soaps will not cost the Earth.