Palm oil is made from the fruit of oil palms. It’s the most used vegetable oil in the world. You can find it in most products that we use on a daily basis, such as food, cleaning products and cosmetics. The demand for palm oil is rising. Mainly on Indonesia, the rainforests increasingly have to make place for widespread oil palm plantations. That has enormous consequences for the biodiversity and the climate. Animals die out because their habitat disappears, and the production of palm oil causes water pollution and erosion. For the poor, local population the large plantations offer relatively little work.

No simple solution

It’s difficult to find a proper solution for these problems. Boycotting palm oil is pointless due to the large number of people who depend on the palm oil industry and the huge demand for palm oil. The amount of produced palm oil per hectare per year is much larger than that of other vegetable oils. If we were to ban palm oil, the demand for other vegetable oils would rise and we would shift and increase the problem.

Responsible palm oil

There are better and more efficient production methods of palm oil, which don’t jeopardise animals and the environment. There is also a quality mark for sustainable palm oil: Round table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO has determined rules for the production of palm oil. Products with this quality mark contain sustainably produced palm oil. It is essential that the demand for products with sustainable palm oil rises. As consumers, we also can influence this by buying products with certified palm oil.

What can you do?

Whether a product contains sustainable palm oil can sometimes be seen by the RSPO quality mark:

However, most companies choose not to show the logo, for example because their products only contain a small amount of palm oil. You could also ask producers, supermarkets or caterers whether their products contain sustainable palm oil. Or write an email informing about their ingredients.

How do we make a difference at Apenheul?

At Apenheul we explain the palm oil problem to visitors during the orangutan presentations. Visitors can also find out what they can do to protect forests at the bottom of the Monkey Tree Path (where you can experience the rainforest yourself). As from 2019, we will try to only serve products containing sustainable palm oil. We are extremely critical when buying products and ask all our (catering) suppliers whether they use sustainable palm oil, stimulating them to do so. It’s a huge challenge to do everything right, so if you find something at our park that could be done differently we’d love to hear about it!