Can you guess the most common ingredient on our shelves? It is present in nearly everything that we use every day, such as soaps, toothpaste, biscuits, beverages, and cosmetics. However, its strong demand has caused serious environmental degradation and has driven 193 plants and animals to the brink of extinction.
The ingredient is Palm Oil. Here’s how its rapid cultivation poses a serious threat to the planet.
1 Why is Palm Oil Crucial?
According to the World Wide Fund or WWF, Palm Oil is found in 50 percent of the packaged products in supermarkets and is also used in animal feed and as a biofuel in several parts of the world. India itself imports more than 9 million tonnes of Palm Oil a year (Reuters).
As compared to Soya Bean, Sunflower and Rapeseed oils, Palm Oil is more versatile. It is highly resistant to oxidation and provides longer shelf-life to products. Moreover, Palm Oil is extremely efficient as the highest yielding vegetable oil crop. It needs less than half the land required by other crops and produces more oil per land area.
2 The Problem
As a result of the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations, there has been rampant destruction of huge areas of tropical rainforests. In case the forest is on peatland, the land is entirely drained which releases thousands of tons of CO2 gas.
In countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand, Ghana, Cameroon, etc., this has threatened the habitats of numerous endangered plants and animals such as the Orangutan, Sumatran Tiger, Pygmy Elephant, and Bornean Rhino. Not to mention the over-exploitation of workers and severe human rights violations.
While the first impulse would be to boycott Palm Oil altogether, there are several stakeholders involved. First, alternative crops are not as cost-effective; second, switching to another crop will demand more land area leading to further environmental degradation; third, it would only sabotage the livelihoods of smallholder farmers for whom the cultivation remains profitable.
3 SoulTree Goes for RSPO certified Palm-Oil Ingredients
Given such complexities, enabling the sustainable production of Palm Oil is the only viable solution and hence we are glad to be a member of the RSPO or Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
The RSPO is a Malaysia based collective that unites various stakeholders – from oil palm producers to traders to consumer goods manufacturers and so on. It has a set of environmental and social criteria to produce certified sustainable Palm Oil and protect the local communities who depend on it for their livelihoods.
Considering that Palm Oil suppliers in several countries including India are yet to meet the sustainable guidelines sanctioned by RSPO, we are building partnerships to source the ingredients from certified suppliers.
One of our priorities has always been to enable a sustainable supply chain through ethical transactions and with this initiative, we seek to bring the most effective, gentle, and non-invasive beauty products to our consumers.