Is Palm Oil Really Bad For The Environment?

2 CommentsTuesday, 10 March 2020  |  Ken

Is Palm Oil Really Bad For The Environment

Is Palm Oil Really Bad For The Environment?

Palm oil is a natural vegetable oil which can be found in almost 50 per cent of the products you purchase in your supermarket. This includes food, shampoo, soap, bread, lipstick and more. 

However, the environmental impact of palm oil continues to be a hot topic of debate. Since palm oil is one of the natural ingredients we use in our authentic French soap, we thought we would address these concerns.

What Is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil-based food and product additive on the planet. Originally native to Africa, one crop of palm oil can produce up to one-third the amount of oil of other conventional vegetable oils -including coconut, corn, and rapeseed. 

Also, palm oil crops require fewer pesticides and chemical fertilisers, making palm oil a clean, green, sustainable, and efficient crop. So, what is the concern with palm oil?

What Is The Concern With Palm Oil?

When farmed with integrity, palm oil is a far more sustainable crop than all other vegetable oils. However, farmers throughout many areas of Malaysia and Indonesia have been legally and illegally burning rainforests to plant their palm oil crops. 

This irresponsible clearing results in the release of toxic greenhouse emissions, endangering rare species, displacing both wildlife and indigenous families. 

Although native to Africa, due to the rampant clearing of crops, Malaysia and Indonesia now produce over 85% of the world's supply of palm oil. 

RSPO Sustainable Palm Oil Label

Ensuring Sustainable Palm Oil

The demand for palm oil is expected to more than double over the next 5 years, leaving many environmentalists concerned about the further impact on the ecosystems and communities impacted by deforestation. 

Organisations from around the globe have joined forces to put systems in place to ensure suppliers are farming on previously cleared land or land that does not require deforestation. 

A group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is leading this initiative, working with partners such as the WWF, Greenpeace, the UN, and Asia's largest oilseed processing companies and organisations such as Wilmar International and United Plantations. 

A few significant strides have been made thus far:

  • In 2013, Wilmar International signed a 100 per cent zero-deforestation agreement. Since Asia is where the deforestation occurs, this was a significant step in the right direction. 
  • In 2014, the EU changed laws to require products to clearly state if palm oil is present, not just the all-encompassing "vegetable oil". 
  • A certification process has been put in place, and many global companies have committed to purchasing from farms which meet the strict guidelines for sustainable farming. Just look for the RSPO or Greenpeace label.
  • Farmers in tropical climates which are conducive to palm oil farming are expanding their crops on already cleared land. 

These vital changes have already slowed the rate of deforestation; as well as the revenue stream for irresponsible farmers. 

So, should we be trying to eliminate palm oil products from our homes? No, as this would have a significant impact on the economies of those countries producing palm oil.

Alternatively, we should pledge to only buying products from companies that are committed to sourcing their palm oil responsibly. Then actually, you will be using one of the most sustainable oil crops in the world. 

Just look for the RSPO or Green Palm Label. As we don't have labels on our bar soaps, Natural French soap ensures all of our palm oil is sustainably certified. 

Et Vous?

Did you have concerns about palm oil? Has this article made things clearer for you? If you have any comments, please leave them below, I would love to hear your thoughts.

I hope you found this article useful and if you did, you know what to do. You can share it with the world using the sustainable social media share buttons below.  :)

Friday, 13 March 2020  |  9:58

Hello, a very concise and informative article, as a family we have have tried not to buy products containing palm oil, unless it states it is from a sustainable source. Here in the UK public perceptions slowly ( very slowly ) are being altered, we have some manufacturers actually making it clear on their packets that the palm oil is from sustainable sources, a definite plus.Take care.

Friday, 13 March 2020  |  12:23

Thank you for your comment, George. It is important that the message is about using Palm oil from sustainable sources and not about stopping the use of palm oil altogether. Progress is definitely being made :)