Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world.
Over 60 million tonnes are produced each year.
It is derived from the palm fruit grown on the African oil palm tree, and currently approximately 90% of palm oil is produced in southeast Asia.
Currently only 19% of all palm oil produced is certified as sustainable by the RSPO
The RSPO’s standards include:
Not clearing primary forest. These are pristine forests that exist in their original condition and have been unaffected by human activities.
Not clearing areas high in carbon. When trees are felled in these areas, carbon is released and contributes to global warming. High carbon areas are identified by the High Carbon Stock Approach.
Not growing crops on peatlands. These are effectively large composting areas that, once drained, releases greenhouse gas emissions.
Protecting areas that are rich in biodiversity and/or of cultural significance. These are also known as High Conservation Value areas.
Respecting human rights. This is achieved by ensuring the highest standards of human welfare practices are met, including obtaining free, prior and informed consent from local and indigenous communities, ensuring a safe working environment and protecting workers rights to decent living wages, holiday entitlement and sick leave.
Supporting smallholders. Smallholders are farmers whose main source of income comes from growing oils palms, alongside other subsistence crops, on farms less than 50 hectares in size and whose family provides the majority of the labour. 40% of all palm oil is produced by smallholders.
What is the difference?
Non-sustainable palm oil
Causes unregulated deforestation, environmental damage, loss of biodiversity and human rights issues.
(e.g. child labour, unfair pay and displacing indigenous peoples from their land)
Sustainable palm oil
Is produced in a way which minimises environmental impact, safeguards biodiversity and benefits people
Why is sustainable palm oil the right choice?
Oil palms are an incredibly efficient crop – they produce a lot of oil for the amount of land used – up to 4 to 6 times more than other oil crops.
Palm oil is the first choice for many manufacturers because it’s versatile, long-lasting (it has a natural preservative), and has no odour. This makes it the perfect oil to use in a range of items, including food, cosmetics and cleaning products.
Boycotting palm oil would shift the environmental and social issues to another oil industry. The demand for less efficient oils would lead to more land being converted.
Palm oil also supports the livelihoods of thousands of people around the world with 40% being produced by smallholders.
Producing palm oil sustainably means that we can continue using palm oil but can ensure that it is produced in a way that has a low impact on the environment, safeguards biodiversity and protects people’s rights.
Tonnes per hectare
Palm oil: 3.8
Rapeseed oil: 0.8
Sunflower oil: 0.7
Soya oil: 0.5
How can I support palm oil?
Buy supermarket own brand products and products labelled as containing sustainable palm oil.
With the exception of Iceland, most UK supermarkets use sustainable palm oil in their own brand products. Any products displaying the logo below will also contain sustainable palm oil
Show your support for sustainable palm oil.
Share positive stories you hear and show your support for companies already using sustainable palm oil by telling them on social media or by email