Thanks for choosing to help save Gutan and other orangutans endangered by palm oil production.  It’s now time to take action, and we’ve made it simple for you…

By learning a little, acting a little differently and giving a little, together we can make a big difference!

1. Learn

Identifying Palm Oil

Which products contain palm oil?
Palm oil and palm oil derived ingredients can be found in almost half of all supermarket products, from domestic cleaners through to chocolates. Consumer goods commonly containing palm oil include:

  • Baking: baking products and mixes, biscuits, breads
  • Breakfast: spreads, breads, cereals
  • Dairy: margarines, chocolates, ice-creams, cheeses
  • Home cleaning: detergents, multi-purpose cleaners, surface wipes
  • Home décor: candles
  • Laundry: laundry powders, laundry liquids, fabric softeners, pre-wash/ stain removers
  • Personal care: soaps, shampoos, lipsticks, cosmetics, deodorants, skin care
  • Snacks: instant noodles, potato chips, crackers

What are alternative names for palm oil?
There are hundreds of alternatives names for ingredients containing palm oil in Australia. Click here for a full downloadable list of alternative names for palm oil.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil, high in saturated fats, produced from the palm fruit of the African oil palm tree. It is a primary ingredient in many manufactured foods, and its derivatives are used in common cosmetics, cleaning and laundry products.

Palm Oil 2  Palm Oil 1

Highly productive and cheaper to produce than any other vegetable oil, palm oil is often the first choice for manufactures to use in their vast array of consumer products.

It is grown throughout Asia, North America, South America and Africa, although over 85% of palm oil traded globally is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia where a tropical environment and nutrient-rich soil forms the perfect combination for palm oil plantations to thrive.

Why is palm oil controversial?

The problem with palm oil is the scale of its production and the impact it has on the environment, wildlife and communities.

Why is Palm Oil controversial?

As primary forest and vegetation are cleared to accommodate growing global demand for palm oil, endangered species and local communities are being severely compromised.

  • It is estimated that over 300 football fields of rainforest are destroyed every hour to make way for palm oil plantations.
  • Widespread deforestation has forced many species to the brink of extinction, including endangered and critically endangered species such as elephants, orangutans, rhinos and tigers.
  • The United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP) predicts that most of Indonesia’s rainforest could be destroyed by 2022.
  • Extinction in the wild is likely in the next 10 years for Sumatran Orangutans and soon after the Borneo Orangutans.

Indigenous peoples and communities are also deprived of their livelihoods and essential ecosystem services such as water and nutrient-rich soil.

The quick and easy clearing of rainforest and vegetation through slashing and burning has also become a major contributor to climate change.

The current situation

Palm oil production causes large scale deforestation in South-east Asia.

Palm oil production causes large scale deforestation in South-east Asia.

Sustainable palm oil

Sustainable palm oil is a concept meaning the production of palm oil without impacting the environment, wildlife and communities.

The concept was introduced at the formation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-for-profit membership organisation that aims to unite all stakeholders in the supply chain of palm oil production – palm oil growers, NGOs, governments, retailers and consumer goods manufacturers.

The RSPO’s certification is called Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). This certification recognises products that comply to various levels of sustainability and meet the RSPO’s standards.

RSPO logo
The RSPO certifies products to two different levels of sustainability:
1. “certified” where at least 95% of the palm oil in the product is sustainable
2. “mixed” where some of the oil can be identified as being from certified sources

There is also a third level of accreditation sanctioned by the RSPO called “Green Palm”, where there is no requirement that the palm oil in the product is from sustainable sources but the brand owner commits to the ‘objectives’ of the RSPO and purchases “Green Palm” certifications which helps support sustainable plantations.

RSPO accreditation is the only current method to genuinely identify companies and products that are committed to using sustainable palm oil (at different levels). You may have already seen this logo on foods in supermarkets.

The issue gets more complex when looking at manufacturers using ingredients that are derivatives of palm oil or palm kernel oil – such as in cleaning or laundry products. There are currently very few chemical suppliers offering any ingredients that meet the RSPO standard. Because of this there are no RSPO certified cleaning or laundry products in Australian supermarkets at the moment.

Palm oil consumption in Australia

Australian labelling laws don’t require manufacturers of consumer goods to identify palm oil ingredients in their products.

Commonly, palm oil is instead labelled as ‘vegetable oil’ making it impossible for consumers to know which products contain palm oil unless they learn the names of common ingredients or identify products using CSPO.

It is particularly difficult to identify the use of palm oil or palm kernel oil derivatives such as sodium laureth sulphate in common domestic cleaning products, as the origin of these ingredients are almost impossible to trace or verify.

It’s far easier to look for products that are labelled as palm oil free (POF).

2. Act

As a consumer, there are many things you can do to improve issues relating to palm oil.  Here are a few immediate actions you can take:

  1. Support palm oil free (POF) products.  The best thing you can do is to vote with your wallet and buy palm oil free (POF) products.  Between August 19 and September 19, Australian manufacturer Aware Environmental is donating 10c from every Orange Power and Aware product sold to the three charities listed below.
  2. Demand palm oil free (POF) products in supermarkets.  Encourage retailers to support palm oil free products by stocking them on supermarket shelves.
    Woolworths Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 6.57.49 pm Write on Woolworths’s wall or call 1300 767 969
    Coles Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 6.57.49 pm Write on Coles’s wall or call 1800 061 562
  3. Share the palm oil story.  Jump across to Gutan’s Story and share his story with your friends.

3. Give

Many organisations are working tirelessly on the front line to rescue, rehabilitate and protect endangered wildlife and forests and rebuild local communities that have been compromised by the palm oil industry.  We’ve chosen three of the main charities working to improve issues relating to palm oil – these guys would appreciate your support.

The Orangutan Project Help save orangutans and other endangered species. The Orangutan Project (TOP) collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects, as well as providing habitat protection through its own programs. Click here to adopt an orangutan
Click here to donate to orang-utan protection
Borneo Orangutan Survival Help protect existing rainforest habitat and protect, rehabilitate and release orangutans. Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Australia is a volunteer organisation raising funds to protect, rehabilitate and release orangutans and protect existing rainforest habitat. Click here to donate to help save the orangutans and forest
DeforestACTION Help stop deforestation and the destruction of natural habitat. DeforestACTION is a global movement of youth and schools taking action to stop deforestation and create a permanent habitat for orangutans and other species that depend on forest ecosystems. Click here to donate to their Standing Strong with Tembak project
Aware Environmental From International Orangutan Day (Aug 19) until September 19, Australian manufacturer Aware Environmental is also contributing 10c for every Orange Power and Aware product sold to the above charities.
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