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Choose sustainable palm oil

Make simple swaps

Palm oil is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil. It’s used in 50% of all packaged supermarket products and is found in everything from toothpaste and shampoo to ice cream and cereal.

However, unsustainable palm oil production is devastating wildlife and wild places in many tropical countries, particularly in South East Asia. Increased demand for palm oil has led to a huge increase in commercial plantations. Vast areas of tropical rainforest have been cleared in order to create these plantations, destroying the habitats of many rare species such as orangutans and tigers.

A sustainable solution

We believe that promoting sustainably grown palm oil is the best way to make a difference.

Palm oil itself isn’t the problem. It’s a very versatile, high-yielding crop that provides a livelihood for millions of people in tropical countries. It requires much less space to grow than any other oil crop and helps to give products longer shelf lives (resulting in less waste), among other benefits. The problem with palm oil is how it’s grown.

Why not ban palm oil altogether?

Palm oil is present in so many products that it would be incredibly difficult to remove it from our weekly shops altogether. Plus, no other product can compare to palm oil in terms of versatility and yield. We’d have to use up to 10 times more space to grow other oils like soybean, sunflower or rapeseed. By boycotting palm oil altogether, we’d just be changing the problem, not resolving it.

Sustainable production means that we can continue to use palm oil, support developing economies, and minimise any further loss of wildlife and wild places.

Unsustainable vs sustainable palm oil

Unsustainable palm oil is grown on newly deforested land, whereas sustainable palm oil is usually grown on land that has previously been deforested. But that’s not the only reason why sustainable palm oil is so much better for the planet: in order to gain certification by RSPO (the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), growers also need to:

  • Make the most out of an area, rather than using more and more land
  • Not plant on peat
  • Not use fire to clear land
  • Protect and create wildlife corridors to help plants and animals thrive
  • Manage the land sensibly to ensure stable production levels and job stability
  • Protect labour and human rights
  • Include growers and employees in decision-making
  • Provide a decent living wage
  • Commit to continual improvement

Sustainable palm oil means protection for the people and communities that rely on the crop, as well as protecting the land and vulnerable species too.

What are we doing?

In our zoos

From ice cream to doughnuts, we only sell food that is made using sustainable palm oil at our zoos. By engaging with our visitors, we also aim to help people make sense of this complex and often emotional issue, to ensure they can make informed choices that help achieve change.

In the community

At Newquay Zoo, we are leading a campaign to turn Newquay into a Sustainable Palm Oil Community and the first Sustainable Palm Oil Town.

We are working in collaboration with local organisations and businesses to increase both the usage and demand for sustainably produced palm oil. This means adopting sustainable palm oil policies, as well as buying, serving, selling and promoting sustainable palm oil products that help to protect our planet’s rainforests and the species that call them home.

Find Out More

What can you do?

Wherever you are in the world, it’s easy to get behind sustainable palm oil:

  • Support supermarkets and manufacturers that use sustainable palm oil
  • Email supermarkets and manufacturers and ask them to swap to sustainable palm oil
  • Ask supermarkets and manufacturers to ensure that products using sustainable palm oil are clearly labelled
  • Encourage supermarkets and manufacturers to tighten up their procurement chains: this means using 100% sustainable palm oil (rather than the popular practice of using a mixture of both sustainably and unsustainably sourced oil) and tracing oil all the way back to certified sources
  • Sponsor an animal of one of our zoos! Palm oil production affects many rare species, but adopting an animal helps to support our efforts to conserve them for the future; orangutans, tigers and otters are all species you can sponsor whose wild relatives are threatened by palm oil production
  • Become a member and support our work year-round

To find out how sustainable your favourite supermarkets and brands are when it comes to palm oil, check out the WWF Palm Oil Scorecard.