Why we need good palm oil

Why we need good palm oil

#Conservation, #Act for the Wild, #Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Posted on 31st March 2022 by Media Relations

Many of us have had the experience of getting the wrong song words stuck in our brain – once they’re committed to memory it’s a battle to correct them. That’s what has happened with palm oil – many people have an automatic memory that palm oil is bad.

You may have heard the message to boycott palm oil or buy palm oil free products as the way to help wildlife, which seems like a logical and simple solution. However, palm oil is a complex issue and, given it’s found in around 50 per cent of household products and goes by numerous names on ingredient lists, it’s not an easy one to avoid.

There’s also the question of alternatives – if companies stop using palm oil, what are they using instead? Palm oil is the most efficient vegetable oil option, with palm trees producing 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. Replacing palm oil with another type of vegetable oil, such as soybean and rapeseed, would require much larger amounts of land to be used to produce the same volume of oil and, in turn, cause more deforestation if not farmed sustainably.

The truth is, palm oil itself is not the problem – the problem lies with how and where it has been produced. This is where the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) comes in. The RSPO is the most high profile and best represented organisation involved in certifying palm oil as sustainable, using standards based on an evolving set of Principles and Criteria (P&Cs) addressing a range of issues, including the environmental and social impacts of palm oil.

When grown sustainably, palm oil production can benefit local communities and help protect wildlife and forests. So with that in mind, let’s check out the top five myths about sustainable palm oil and set the record straight.

Myth #1

Palm Oil is cheap and we're using way too much of it

Truth: Global demand for vegetable oils has increased rapidly over the last 50 years and as the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, that’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed. We need to ensure that all of our food is sourced sustainably, and palm oil is no different.

We need companies that use palm oil to commit to buying all of their supply from certified sustainable plantations and to pay the appropriate price, to drive market transformation.

Myth #2

Palm Oil is a major cause of deforestation

Truth: When grown sustainably, palm oil has the opportunity to reduce deforestation, thanks to strict RSPO standards for growers.

Myth #3

Palm Oil is devastating the world's wildlife

Truth: RSPO’s certification standards focus on three pillars of sustainability: people, planet and prosperity. This includes a focus on preserving land with high conservation value and high carbon stock forests.

Myth #4

Sustainable Palm Oil is a con

Truth: The RSPO standards enable palm oil to be grown in harmony with the local environment and communities. This includes protection of primary and secondary forests, wildlife habitat, workers, local communities and indigenous people.

Myth #5

Truth: Many companies have converted to using sustainable palm oil, however we need more companies to make the switch. Of the current total supply of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil, around 40% is not being sold – this can discourage producers from committing to the strict RPSO standards. We need all companies to use RPSO certified sustainable palm oil in their products to ensure forests and wildlife are protected.

Now that you’re in the know, you can help to create a sustainable future for wildlife and local communities by spreading the word on sustainable palm oil. Visit the Raise Your Palm page for more actions you can take to protect tigers, and stay tuned for the upcoming Easter Chocolate Guide so you can choose wildlife-friendly treats for your family and friends.