Who are the Orangutan Alliance & Why Does Palm Oil Matter?

why palm oil matters - what is happening to organutans and why we need to go palm oil free

I am very excited and proud to be working as an Ambassador for the Orangutan Alliance, an independent industry based, not for profit organisation and charity certifying palm oil free products. The alliance advocates for the end of conflict palm oil, mandatory labeling and provides a voice for consumers on this issue through their Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free Certification Program, campaigns, research and activities.

“We believe in prevention and cure, that’s why we actively develop relationships with alliance partners including manufacturers regarding new research into this issue, as well as those who carry out grassroots rehabilitation and reforestation work to restore rainforest habitat” explains founder Maria Abadilla. All of Orangutan Alliance’s profits go back into grassroots conservation projects to promote conservation, education and reforestation programs in areas affected by this issue.

Orangutans might be the face of the palm oil free movement, but there are other animals also impacted by the loss of habitat. This includes the Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Rhino. Finding an alternative to palm oil is tricky. To get to the point of being able to replace palm oil in large scale commercial products, we need research and financial support; the alternative has to be able to meet high demand; requires available land in the right locations; must be affordable; must be acceptable to buyers, end users, and governments and needs to be sustainable from a production as well as a health point of view. Alternative vegetable oils include soybean, rapeseed, and coconut as well as less common jatropha and jojoba. These are technically feasible but still have challenges in relation to affordability, acceptability, and sustainability. Even more creative ideas are being explored, including yeast and algae! In the meantime looking for the growing number of products with no palm oil or those at least using sustainable palm oil, is the way to go.

why palm oil matters - what is happening to organutans and why we need to go palm oil freeWhat’s the issue with Palm Oil?

Palm Oil is one of those things that is in so many products that you are likely to have consumed something containing it without even knowing. It can have so many names that it is almost impossible to know it is present, without the help of lists, apps or labelling. The problem with palm oil is that due to deforestation for Palm Oil, Orangutans face losing their homes and families everyday. It has been reported that an area equivalent to 300 football fields is destroyed every hour due to palm oil production. This is the land where the Orangutans live and source their food, spening most of their lives in the trees that are being destroyed. Further reports also suggest more than half of the Orangutan population have been found outside of their protected areas, due to palm oil production. A shocking 80% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed by non sustainable palm oil production in the last 20 years.

In Sumatra, Indonesia Orangutans are at high risk because of non sustainable palm oil production and animal poaching. Although this is the only place on earth where these species reside together, their habitat is being destroyed. It is estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans and 50,000 Bornean Orangutans living in the wild today. Both are listed as critically endangered. Orangutans are extremely important to the biodiversity of the South East Asian rainforest as they are considered an umbrella species. They help to keep the environment healthy for thousands of fauna and flora in the rainforests they live in, including germinating tree seeds.

Orangutans are very intelligent animals and are our closest relatives, sharing 97% of our DNA. Their similarity to us is astonishing. They are very curious and enjoy learning new tricks. They are very gentle and love sitting around for hours and are the largest tree-dwelling animals in the world. They spend most of their time in trees eating fruit! Living up to 60 years old, the Bornean orangutans are heavier than the Sumatran ones. Female orangutans only give birth every 8 years and are fertile for more than 30 years. Baby orangutans hang on to their mothers’ backs until they are about 6 years old. According to an article in the Guardian, in the last 16 years alone, 100,000 Bornean orangutans have been lost. All three species – Bornean, Sumatran and the Tapanuli, a species discovered only last year – are now on the critically endangered list. Global demand for palm oil has increased six-fold since 1990.
why palm oil matters - what is happening to organutans and why we need to go palm oil free

Palm Oil Free Certification

The Orangutan Alliance No Palm Oil Certification Programme is for manufacturers and brands, enabling them to use the Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free certification trademark to certify that no palm oil or palm oil derivatives are used in their approved consumer products.
There are many benefits to certification. The Orangutan Alliance Palm Oil Free Seal is a recognized logo for people who are looking for certified palm oil free products. This symbol represents a sign of trust and care and helps consumers make informed choices.
why palm oil matters - what is happening to organutans and why we need to go palm oil free
The aim is to support the success of manufacturers and brands that do not use non-sustainable palm oil – we want to highlight these brands and share your stories. When you use the Orangutan Alliance PALM OIL FREE SEAL, you tap into thousands of consumers already looking for labelling choice. Awareness is growing and the desire for palm oil free products is growing alongside this.
For more information regarding the Certification Program, please head here.

Which products contain Palm Oil?

  • Today palm oil accounts for 35% of world edible vegetable oil production (Helena Varkkey, 2016 ) with 85% of this sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • It is used in about 50% of packaged goods consumers purchase in supermarkets and shops, but it doesn’t always appear as its name suggests.
  • There are over 200 different names for Palm Oil. Part of the labelling choice issue is that consumers who want labelling choice cannot easily know whether palm oil is in the product. Labels can mislead consumers with different names that are currently used for palm oil (a sample list is available here).
  • Different types of foods can include palm oil such as biscuits, chocolate, ice-cream, bread, processed foods, crackers, baked goods etc.
  • It can also be found in household products including cleaning products, toothpaste and shampoo, make-up, cosmetics and detergents.

The global palm oil production is expected to nearly double by 2020.
We can do something about deforestation and animals such as the Orangutans affected by non sustainable palm oil production by becoming more conscious consumers.
Join the movement to end deforestation at www.orangutanalliance.org 
@orangutanalliance #orangutanalliance #mysteptoprotect

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