From the fruit and seeds of the oil palm tree, and straight into our soap, detergents, makeup, biscuits, and biofuel – palm oil is everywhere. It is cheaper to grow than many of its alternatives, takes up less land space, and has a long shelf life, so it’s no wonder many global brands are using it on an ever-growing scale. But while palm oil has many uses and benefits, its production can also have unjustifiable costs.
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil and around 15 million hectares of land in Indonesia has been licensed for palm oil development, though the precise figure is difficult to determine due to lack of transparency in the sector. The palm oil sector was the single largest driver of deforestation in the 2009–2011 period, with identified concessions accounting for about a quarter (150,000ha) of forest loss.
Consumer companies, traders and palm oil producers need to implement No Deforestation Policies to ensure that the palm oil in their supply chains is free from forest destruction, land conflicts and human rights violations.