What is…the buzz about sustainable palm oil?


Ahhh, the renewable resource conundrum. How do you really deter

mine the renewability of a resource? By rate or regeneration? Availability? Potential to re-grow? Monetary investments to ‘renew’ it? Natural balance?

Palm Oil, the latest explosion on the renewables market came under scrutiny for being a root cause of severe deforestation. Greenpeace and other environmental groups internationally protested specific companies that were harvested palm oil in unsustainable methods. In a twofold act, there was a push to make palm oil sustainable to help secure the growing market for palm oil as well as to provide a viable long-term product. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) formed to help provide guidelines based on a scientific understanding of the natural thresholds and best practices for harvesting palm oil.

The buzz? The Netherlands has publicly committed itself to be the first Country to use only sustainable palm oil by the year 2015. Companies have in turn been dropping Sinar Mas as a palm oil supplier after Greenpeace’s attacks on its questionable practices that may have led to severe deforestation. Among those companies Nestle, Cadbury, and Kraft were quick to drop the company. More progressive companies are themselves committing to responsible palm oil sourcing including Seventh Generation and General Mills.

Photo Credits 1 and Greenpeace.

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  1. It’s a simple fact that any industry has to push towards sustainable practices to survive long term. Unfortunately there are often poor countries where they are allowed to take shortcuts for short term profits. The richer countries feed the cycle by demanding low priced products and turning a blind eye towards the negative impact. It’s great that Greenpeace is able to help uncover some of the worst offenders, but there needs to be more done to stop all unsustainable practices.

  2. It’s a good thing that these big-name companies are shunning Sinar Mas. Hope more take their lead and look to sustainable palm oil.

  3. @Online, There definitely needs to be something done, especially “intentional” and deforestation that is not accomplishing anything useful for anyone.


    • I think the people making money off of the deforestation would disagree. To them it likely just seems like a valid opportunity for profit. Punishment would be tricky as some amount of deforestation is acceptable.

      • Aluminum, the same thing can be said about anything else in life or the business world, its a natural thought really.


  4. Every country’s government has an obligation to ensure that business is done in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. It’s too easy to make some excuse about how it would cut into profits too much. Really though, is destroying the environment worth those temporary profits?

  5. The internet is really helping causes like this. We simply cannot depend on non-renewable resources. The internet helps develop mass exposure to these issues and forces companies to change their practices. Consumers can also do their part by being selective about products which are not environmentally friendly.

  6. I eat this cereal called “Cookie Bitez” because it’s Gluten Free and I’m a Coeliac, but my friend and I noticed that it contains palm oil. I emailed the company to ask them where their palm oil is from, and they said it comes from “sustainable plantations”, but didn’t tell me WHERE these plantations are! Is there such thing as a sustainable palm oil plantation? I don’t want to eat anything with palm oil but it’s so hard when they don’t label it or tell you where it’s from!!

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