Palm oil is used in almost half of all packaged products in the super market, like margarine, oil based soap, ice cream, and lipstick. Palm oil sounds good for the environment and good for you right? Palm oil companies have advertised using nature as backdrop and general greenwashing. Palm oil companies said “Sustainably Produced Since 1917,” but to create palm oil, rainforest in south east Asia are being destroyed. Giant palm oil plantations are coming in to replace the rainforests. In the rainforests of south east Asia and west Africa, there are many endangered orangutans and indigenous people. The palm oil companies are doing their best to greenwash palm oil as much as possible, while more negative press is coming out on the production. Even though there is massive habitat destruction caused by the production of palm oil, the companies who use palm oil will soon be labeled wildlife and climate friendly. Of course rainforest preservation is very important when thinking when thinking about the global carbon budget and climate change. Also when they clear the rainforest this takes away the habitat of the endangered orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an organization that is supposed to certify sustainable palm oil production. The RSPO should be a verification to the consumer that their product was sustainably produced, but this is really just another form of green washing. RSPO has admitted 99% of the palm oil that has been used was not harvested in a sustainable way.
RSPO says there is no point in trying to find an alternate source to palm oil because ‘any replacement would still do damage.’ Of course this is not true and not all resources have the same impact on the environment. Many companies are making pledges that their palm oil will be harvested in more sustainable ways, but they are still actively clearing land for new plantations. Palm oils may also begin being used as a biofuel, which of course is still more green than fossil fuels, but the green image palm oil companies portray are still not what they appear to be.