Consider alternatives to palm oil and save the orangutans

The problem with palm oil

The single greatest threat facing orangutans today is habitat loss. The average annual rate of forest loss in Indonesia was 498,000 hectares from 2000 to 2010, or the equivalent of over 55 rugby fields per hour.

The expanding palm oil industry has been a key driver of this deforestation.  In the decade to 2010, the Indonesian plantation area nearly doubled to close to 8.0 million hectares and is expected to near 13 million hectares by 2020.

Today palm oil accounts for 35% of world edible vegetable oil production with 85% of this sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia. The industry kills an estimated 1000 orangutans each year.

The use of palm oil

The majority of palm oil (about 80%) is used in the food industry either as a vegetable oil or embedded in other ingredients. Palm oil also occurs widely in personal care, cosmetic and household products including soap, toothpaste, shampoo, cosmetics, laundry powders and detergents.

The effects of palm oil

The Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation sees the result of the palm oil industry expansion on a daily basis. It rescues and releases orangutans displaced from their natural habitat. Those not able to be immediately trans-located are cared for at centres in Central and East Kalimantan.

Borneo’s Nyaru Menteng orang-utan rehabilitation centre has more than 600 orang-utans despite being built for 100-200, and more keep arriving.

“Unfortunately 98 per cent of the orang-utans at Nyaru Menteng have lost their mothers to the palm oil industry. The main thing is the lack of forest. It’s escalating.” – Ms Butcher, Melbourne zoo keeper.

Alternatives to palm oil

There are alternatives to palm oil productions that do not harm orangutans and this includes certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). This oil has been produced according to a set of environmental and social criteria designed to ensure the rights of local communities are respected and that no new primary forests or high conservation value areas have been cleared for palm oil production since November 2005.

A number of major retailers and manufacturers have committed to moving to CSPO by 2015 including Coles and Woolworths (in all Coles and Woolworths branded products), Unilever, Arnotts and Nestle.

Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia’s position on palm oil

BOS Australia supports the use of identity preserved and segregated certified sustainable palm oil. They believe its adoption is achievable in the Australian market if sufficient consumer pressure is brought to bear. They acknowledge that the shift to sustainable production and the RSPO certification process is not without its issues but believe it remains the most acceptable solution currently available.

Supporting BOS Australia

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment, and as such we support such organisations as BOS Australia as they encompass similar ideals.

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Please see our website for more information:

How you can help

BOS Australia provides a list of palm oil free products that you can choose to buy as alternatives to palm oil products:

Check the ingredients – if the product contains palm oil (usually labelled as vegetable oil or fat), check to see if it has the CSPO logo or contact the manufacturer to get details on the oil’s source. If it’s not CSPO, seek an alternative product and let the manufacturer know why you’ve chosen not to buy the product.

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