Are You Eating Forest Destruction?

The rampant expansion of the palm oil industry is having a devastating effect on the environment and is a disaster for global climate change. And it’s happening right on our doorstep.

Every day, huge areas of forest in our neighbouring countries are being cleared to make way for new plantations, causing greenhouse gas emissions to sky-rocket.

Clearing forests for palm oil plantations is also destroying the natural habitat of many critically endangered species such as the Sumatran orangutan. Experts predict that if deforestation continues, the entire species could be wiped out by 2020.

Manufacturers the world over use palm oil, the cheapest form of vegetable oil available. It’s used in a variety of products, including soap, shampoo, margarine, biscuits and chocolate.

Global demand for palm oil is enormous, and is predicted to more than double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

Species like this Sumatran orangutan are at risk of extinction because of palm oil plantations. You can make a difference by avoiding products containing palm oil.

Indonesia is the world’s primary palm oil supplier, with already 6 million hectares of palm oil plantations and plans for 4 million more by 2015. The damage deforestation is causing to Indonesia’s peatlands, the delicate ecosystem that many Indonesian forests exist on, accounts for 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s because of this that Indonesia ranks as the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States and China.

The largest palm oil producer in the largest palm oil country is Sinar Mas. Last year, Greenpeace released a report to put the spotlight on this company’s involvement in forest destruction.

The report found that Sinar Mas was contravening national forest laws, and destroying peatland forest ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities in Indonesia’s Kalimantan region (Indonesia’s part of the island of Borneo).

Following this report, the world’s largest palm oil buyer, Unilever, swiftly terminated its contract with Sinar Mas. But other companies continue buying palm oil from them.

What you can do

Many of the products we regularly buy in Australia contain palm oil from Indonesia. Your buying habits could be fuelling climate change and destroying the homes of endangered animals in our region.

Check the products you purchase to make sure they do not contain palm oil. If you aren’t sure, contact the manufacturer and ask them whether their product is made with palm oil.

Further reading

» An article on a recent BBC Panorama investigation into the issue.

  • Dear Mankind and all people in our planet,

    I wish everyone (people) been realized that we are distroying our earth or our home to the end of the world. Cause of 4 things big impact are 1.our comsumption too much 2.our living huge destroyed forest also 3.our foods destroyed environment and 4.our selfish never enough of demand to destroyed an whole earth. We are a mankind that we called ourselve “people” that, do you know you are detroying a mankind species to endangerous are we? So,no worry of climate change at all because of we have accepted it must occure in the future. What you did in the past you will get it in the future. The dianosua species took a million years to extinction but we are mankind just took ten thousand years only to extinction. How shorter than a million years. I did not surprise for the climate changed or panic to the climate changed at all and I wish everyone accept to pay for life to be end of the world in comming soon. This is our karma what’s you did badness you will get it bad to you in your turn, what’s you did the goodness you will get good to you also. The karma could you believe it or not? It’s up on you everyone. It is may be too late to prevent the climate changed not change to fast? But, unless we must do anything to prevent the climate changed with changing yourself of your consumptions but, it seem look like no one want to change yourselve at all. So, we are down to deep to the behavious of living huge of consumption yourselve. Then, no one can change you but,just yourself only, if eveyone can’t do then, the death of our planet be the last chance for us.

    So, we keep our behavious of ourselve to be the end of the world then, we just pary for god to help that is make sence to you (everyone). Think it before you die!!!

  • Steve

    “The damage deforestation is causing to Indonesia’s peatlands, the delicate ecosystem that many Indonesian forests exist on, accounts for 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

    For me, this puts Australia’s contribution to global CO2 emissions into perspective. Our target of reducing emissions by 20% by 2020 will reduce global emissions by an incredibly minute 0.002. I’m not sure that the global climate will even notice …. reinforcing my suspicion that these homeopathic attempts at saving the planet, whereby the reduction of medicinal compounds to invisibility is supposed to have a healthy effect, to be as delusional as homeopathy itself.

    I hope Greenpeace has a plan for assisting the workers and their families when they lose their employment in Palm Oil production if our campaign against Sinar Mas and other producers is successful. People depend on whatever work they can get and it would be a shame to see them so savagely disadvantaged.

  • Nihilus

    Oh noes! The poor workers will be unemployed if all this stops. Now I see the truth. Destruction of forests must go on animals must be slaughtered for something that no one needs because if that doesn’t happen someone will be UNEMPLOYED and cant feed his goddamn family. And it’s so unfortunate that he can’t absorb anything into that thick head of his, can’t earn his livin’ from some other less destructive trade.

  • steven

    i feel so sorry for these animals

  • steven

    These animals are going through horrible things everyday and yet no one is doing anything about it. I am trying to raise money so i can donate to these animals but no one is helping me! I feel so sorry for the animals that are going through this help me by raising money make people aware of what is happening! They are so disadvantaged

  • Bianca

    It sickens me to know there are people out there that do these things. You should take a lookk at yourself and think what if i was the orangutans and my home, my families and my life was at risk? Seriously, we have to stop thinking about ourselves and act on behalf of these beautiful animals.

  • I am so surprised that by consuming palm oil, we are making these poor animals extinct, day by day. All along, I believed that palm oil is good for consumption because it is from natural sources. However, using palm oil devastates these animals as well as the environment. In our own little way, we should be responsible enough to lessen or may be just don’t use palm oil.

  • Aimee

    I recently emailed Coles to say that I was disappointed to see that they were using Palm Oil in their entire Christmas Pudding range. Here is their reply….Palm Oil is not the issue?

    Dear Aimee, Thank you for your letter expressing concern for the use of palm oil in products found in Coles Supermarkets. We share your concern and are committed to providing you with the information that you need to be able to make ethical and sustainable choices. Palm oil is a key ingredient in many food products as well as a wide range of products such as soaps and detergents. As you may be aware, palm oil itself is not the issue; the impact is due to unsustainable farming techniques used in the developing countries where oil palms are grown. As eliminating the use of palm oil would devastate thousands of farming families in developing countries, Coles is committed to using only certified sustainable palm oil in all Coles branded products by 2015. In order to achieve this target, we are already working closely with our suppliers to ensure that we can deliver on this commitment. Coles is proud to be a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Oil (RSPO) and we have embraced the Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. See the RSPO website for further details http://www.rspo.org Presently, certified sustainable palm oil only accounts for less than 10% of global total palm oil supply, so there is a gap between the quantity required by all product manufacturers and the amount that is available. This is why we need to work over time with suppliers to secure a supply of sustainable palm oil. While we work to address the supply issue, we have taken steps to ensure we operate responsibly and care for the environment. Palm Oil LabellingWe have made a commitment to labelling palm oil where it is used in Coles branded products make it easier for our customers to make informed purchasing decisions when they shop at Coles. Our policy ensures that we always identify palm oil instead of using the term ‘blended vegetable oils’. Product DevelopmentWe have developed our cleaning and laundry product range, Coles Green Choice, with palm oil sourced from sustainable sources. We have developed Coles soap bars with coconut oil and none of our Coles soap bar range, including; Coles Revitalising Citrus Fresh Soap, Coles Soothing Lavender Soap and Coles Nourishing Shea Butter, contain palm oil. We remove palm oil from our products where possible. We have removed palm oil from some of our Bakery products including Ginger Kisses and Lamingtons and also from Coles Choc Top, Coles Sultanas and Coles 2 Minute Instant Noodles. When developing new products, we will use sustainable palm oil wherever possible and where we cannot use sustainable palm oil, we will use alternative oils and ingredients. This approach enables Coles to encourage palm oil producers to move to sustainable practices whilst supporting the livelihoods of those communities dependant on the palm oil industry. Once again, thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns. We are determined to make ethical and environmentally sustainable choices easier for our customers and do hope the above information has been of assistance to you.
    Yours Sincerely,Rima RustomCustomer Care