There is so much information on palm oil and the destruction it causes, it’s difficult to know where to start. Some information is confusing and a lot is downright disturbing so I’ve cut it down to 10 top facts for you to begin to get your head around it.
- Palm oil and palm kernel oil are oils obtained from the fruit of the palm tree. Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85 percent of its global production.
- Palm oil can be found in over 50% of supermarket products including biscuits, chips, ice-cream, chocolate and baked goods. It is also found in toothpaste, soap, shampoo and cosmetics. Find out more here.
- Companies use palm oil because it has a longer shelf life than other vegetable oils making it more appealing for food production.
- There is no legal obligation in Australia or New Zealand for companies to identify if their products contain palm oil. Read more here.
- Rainforests are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. According to the World Wildlife Fund an area of forest equal to 300 soccer fields is being destroyed every hour. To efficiently clear the rainforests for palm oil plantations many trees and vegetation are burnt releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Find out more here.
- The indigenous people of these areas, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia, are sometimes forced to leave their homes due to the deforestation and then have no other alternative but to work on the palm oil plantations for low wages and in terrible conditions. Find out more here.
- Due to the constant deforestation over 50 orangutans die a week. Find out more here.
- Currently the Bornean orangutan has been classified as Endangered with approximately 55,000 left and 5,000 still being killed every year and the Sumatran orangutan is Critically Endangered with approximately 6,300 left and 1,000 being killed every year.
- Palm oil plantations will only last for approximately 20 to 50 years before the soil is completely drained of its nutrients and the palm trees will no longer produce fruit. So all of this destruction is for a very short-term commodity. Find out more here.
- Total consumption of palm oil has increased tenfold since 1980 and now stands at around 50 million tonnes per year. According to the World Wildlife Fund by 2020, the use of palm oil is expected to double, as the world’s population increases and as people – especially in countries like China and India – become more affluent and consume more manufactured goods containing palm oil.
What do you think? Were you aware of the destruction of palm oil and that it existed in so many of our everyday products?