Written by: Trade Interchange

Posted on: 26/05/22

The True Cost of Unsustainable Palm Oil Sourcing

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil originating from the fruit grown on African oil palm trees, which are now grown in Asia, North America and South America, in addition to their native Africa. The oil’s relatively low-fat content, unique properties and source of vitamin E has resulted in a global demand with which growers are unable to keep up; however, the oil’s popularity is not without controversy.

Palm oil is used in almost half of the packaged products in UK supermarkets, from chocolate and pizza to lipstick and shampoo. Its efficiency is one of the reasons palm is the most produced and consumed vegetable oil across the world.

UK companies have made great progress in their pledge to import more sustainable palm oil, as 2019 saw 70% of total palm oil imports originating from sustainable sources, yet the true cost of decades of unsustainable sourcing is still evident.

Borneo lost almost 40% of its forest between 2000 and 2018 to palm oil production, as rainforests are cleared to grow crops, which not only damages the environment but also
forces endangered animals such as orangutans and elephants into small pockets of land in which they cannot survive. Over three-quarters of Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo national park has been converted to illegal palm oil plantations, threatening the habitat of tigers, orangutans, and elephants while also leading to deforestation and fires.

Illegal plantations are unquestionably dangerous for the environment, animals, and workers, however, companies have founded organisations such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in order to ensure the ethical and sustainable sourcing of palm oil.

RSPO accreditation stipulates all palm oil must be traced to its source, restricts the use of pesticides and fires, and ensures the oil is not the product of deforestation or unethical
treatment of workers.

Currently, 19.5% of the world’s palm oil is certified by the RSPO, yet increasing awareness about the dangers of unsustainably produced crops could also increase consumer demand for ethically sourced oils.

Deforestation, unsustainability, and unethical treatment of workers are all concerns for many companies and the country as a whole, however, by using Trade Interchange’s software solutions, transparency, and traceability in the supply chain are increased, which provides confidence in suppliers’ adherence to company regulations regarding unethical practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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