Palm Oil

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree, specifically the Elaeis guineensis. Palm oil is an extremely useful oil that can be found in about 50% of supermarket items today. It is also the most efficiently produced vegetable oil, as it takes the least amount of land to successfully produce. However, the main issue with palm oil as it relates to orangutans and other wildlife is its driving of deforestation. This coupled with other environmental issues is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Should We Avoid Palm Oil?

The discourse on sustainable options versus avoiding palm oil altogether is ongoing. Based on the current scientific research, avoiding palm oil altogether may actually worsen the issue. Currently, we advocate for the preservation of all remaining rainforests and disagree with anything that would further any destruction of existing forests. We support the practice of producing and consuming of ethically and sustainably produced palm oil from Southeast Asia.

“Avoiding palm oil could have worse effects because it might take support away from companies that are trying hard to improve the situation. This could encourage companies to use other products that may have even more impact on the environment. Palm oil is by far the most efficient vegetable oil to grow as it takes less land to produce than other vegetable oils. Palm oil can be produced in a responsible manner that respects the environment and the communities where it is commonly grown.

World Wildlife Fund

Palm Oil Based Products

  • Cetyl Palmitate and Octyl Palmitate
  • Elaeis Guineensis (Taxonomic name for palm oil)
  • Hexadecylic or Palmitic Acid
  • Hydrated Palm Glycerides
  • Palm Oil Kernal
  • Palmate
  • Palmitate (anything with Palmitate at the end*)

Palm Oil Derivatives

  • Cetearyl Alcohol
  • Emulsifier 422, 430-36, 470-8, 481-483, 493-5
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
  • Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates
  • Steareth – 2 & Steareth – 20
  • Stearic Acid Vegetable Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Vegetable Fat
  • Elaeis Guineensis

Finding Sustainable Solutions

  • The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo maintains the most updated list of companies and products that are members of RSPO and reportedly work toward sustainable production of oil palm.  These companies claim to promote true sustainable agroforestry.  To see a list of these companies and their products visit: http://www.cmzoo.org/docs/palmOilShoppingGuide.pdf

Featured Image: The Tripa Rainforest burns to the ground, all for future palm oil production (photo courtesy of SOCP)