You love Nutella, Snickers and our crispy breakfast cereals. There are days when you just can’t resist putting a fast deep-frozen pizza in the oven. We use cosmetics, lotions, shampoo and wash detergents every day without realising the impact of palm oil in all these products.
What’s it used for?
Palm oil makes one third of all vegetable oils worldwide. It is highly productive as its yields nearly six times as much as the next highest vegetable oil on a per hectare basis (wwf.panda.org). We find it in about half of all packaged food in our supermarkets. It is used for all “creamy” products such as cooking oil, margarine, confectionary, ice cream or ready-to-eat meals. It is the base for most liquid detergents, soaps, shampoos and for lipsticks, waxes and polishes. What you probably don’t now: The EU uses nearly half of the imported palm oil for biofuel (regenwald.org).
What’s the problem?
As the demand for palm oil increases the plantations are the fastest growing agricultures worldwide. Most of them are in Malaysia and Indonesia. According to saynotopalmoil.com an area equivalent to the size of 300 football fields of rain forest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation not only supports climate change and indigenous rights abuses, but also endangers many species, especially the orangutans. Latest findings show that our relatives could become extinct within the next 5-10 years, the Sumatran tiger in even less than 3 years (saynotopalmoil.com).
On the other hand, the business is an opportunity for small plantation owners to flee from poverty and ensure a regular income. If you want to learn more about the complex connections, have a look at this interactive article: