Don't Palm Us Off

You can uncover the truth about palm oil in your favourite brands and help save wild orang-utans.

Read our guide to having an orang-utan friendly Easter in 2014 

TAKE ACTION at the Zoopermarket now!

Orang-utans are facing extinction due to the unsustainable production of palm oil, an ingredient in around half of all supermarket products.

Help fight for a future where any palm oil in Australian supermarkets is clearly labelled and is only 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) - produced in a way that aims to protect the last remaining habitat for wildlife and preserve the livelihoods of producers.

More Information

Contact takeaction@zoo.org.au

To keep up to date on Don't Palm Us Off and other conservation news sign up to our conservation e-newsletter.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions below.

See Zoos Victoria’s stance on CSPO (615.52 KB)
Visit the WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard for more information on Australian companies.

News
Don't Palm Us Off web620

Nestlé Australia is using sustainable palm oil!

Great news! Thanks to the thousands of emails being sent to companies through the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign, all Nestlé Australia chocolate made in Australia now contains 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

5 February 2014
Don't palm us off orang-utans

Joint Statement on Palm Oil

Zoos Victoria has joined together with zoos from around the world to urge the palm oil industry to adopt a sustainable model that safeguards biodiversity.

14 November 2013
School Programs
Endangered Challenge at Gorillas

The endangered challenge

Melbourne Zoo
Zoo educator led
Year 5 – Year 8

The endangered challenge is an eye opening session that addresses how our everyday choices affect species around the world.

The Animals
Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered in the wild. Zoos around the world, including Melbourne Zoo, have become part of the battle to prevent the extinction of this species.

Sumatran Orang-utan close

Sumatran Orang-utan

These ‘people of the forest’ meet us at their level in an enclosure that makes for a satisfying encounter on both sides of the glass.

Second time mum

Asian Elephant

Few visitors to the Zoo would skip a visit to see this fascinating group.

FAQs

Why is Zoos Victoria running the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign?

  • As a zoo-based conservation organisation we are committed to wildlife conservation.
  • Orang-utans are facing extinction and palm oil is the single biggest threat to their survival.
  • With more than 1.7 million visitors each year we have a unique opportunity to engage the public in conservation actions that will help secure the survival of species in the wild.

What does the campaign hope to achieve?

Don’t Palm Us Off aims to:

  • Raise public awareness about the palm oil crisis, exposing the link between consumers and orang-utan survival
  • Secure time-bound commitments from Australian based companies to use 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).
  • Work with government and other agencies to mandate the labelling of palm oil on all food products.

Is Zoos Victoria calling for palm oil to be removed from all products?

No. We simply want a future where the only palm oil imported into Australia is Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and where all palm oil is clearly labelled on products. Only when palm oil is clearly labelled and food and grocery manufacturers are using 100% CSPO can consumers have the right to make informed choices.

What about the palm oil labelling issue?

Don’t Palm Us Off recognises the importance of achieving mandatory labelling of palm oil on all food and grocery products and we’ll continue to support those companies who voluntarily label palm oil.

While our public campaign is currently largely focused on community action to drive the production and use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), we continue to work with government on behalf of more than 163,000 concerned community members who spoke up against misleading labelling in 2010.

What is certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)?

Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is palm oil that is produced under a third-party global certification scheme through the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

CSPO is a vital tick of approval, aiming to respect the rights of the millions of people who rely on this industry, including customary land owners, local communities, plantation workers and small farmers to ensure that no new primary forests are cleared for production, and that mills minimise their environmental footprint. No land cleared after 2005 can be certified under the RSPO[1], meaning that future production is forced to make use of the millions of hectares of land already cleared and degraded in order to obtain certification and meet consumer demands.

Australia imports about 130,000 tonnes of palm oil each year, a fraction of the annual production of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) – which had grown to 5 million tonnes by the end of 2011[2].

Who are the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)?

Established in 2004, the RSPO is a not-for-profit organisation which unites stakeholders from all sectors of the palm oil industry, including environmental and social NGOs. Its members include the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam, oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors.

Why do Zoos Victoria’s three zoos continue to sell products that contain palm oil?

Don’t Palm Us Off does not advocate for the boycott of palm oil and, equally, we have not put a blanket ban on selling products containing palm oil in our food outlets. Instead, we choose to stock brands that meet our sustainability and conservation principles and, where products contain palm oil, we seek complete transparency around sourcing and commitments. By supporting companies that are leading the way toward a holistic solution for the palm oil crisis we can help ensure they meet their commitments and encourage others to follow.

What is the problem with avoiding all products containing palm oil?

We believe that avoiding palm oil has limited positive outcomes and ignores some of the major threats driving the destruction of rainforest. By encouraging a mass boycott of palm oil we may push manufacturers to source alternative oils like soy or rapeseed which can require 6 to 10 times more land than is needed for palm oil[3]:
The world’s growing population means by 2050 we’ll need to produce 70% more food than we are producing now[4]. Our demand for edible oil can only increase, so it is crucial that we invest in developing sustainable systems that meet growing demands rather than diverting markets to oils that could be just as damaging.

The production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) aims to foster sustainable livelihoods for the millions of people who rely on this industry and alleviate the social conflict and human-rights abuses commonly associated with the development of new plantations.

Why is Don’t Palm Us Off currently focusing on food and grocery manufacturers?

Grocery manufacturers play an important role as the conduit between palm oil supplier and the consumer. Their actions can influence palm oil production whilst meeting the demands of you, the consumer.

More than 5 million tonnes of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) was produced in 2011[5], but without companies committed to purchasing and using it, forest destruction from unsustainable palm oil production will continue.

The Zoopermarket experience at Melbourne Zoo and online aims to shine a light on palm oil use by food and grocery manufacturers and mobilise community action. Through the Zoopermarket you can send a clear message to manufacturers that you deserve transparency and time-bound commitments from all major Australian food manufacturers to use and label 100% Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

How do I know if a product contains Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)?

Unfortunately with poor labelling standards around palm oil, it is currently almost impossible to tell if products contain palm oil, let alone if this palm oil is CSPO. We are working with with government and other agencies on behalf of our community to mandate the labelling of palm oil on all food products. Some companies are beginning to label CSPO using a trademark and our campaign webpage will provide updates on companies doing this. Note that companies can be a member of the RSPO without actually sourcing or using CSPO in their products. Only when they specify that they use 100% RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil can you be sure that it’s CSPO.

Couldn’t your campaign simply drive more demand for palm oil?

Zoos Victoria does not advocate for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil over all other oils. We simply ask that if palm oil is used in a product that it is RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and clearly labelled. We understand the environmental, economic and social importance of the production of other edible oils in Australia and other parts of the world.

Can palm oil be orang-utan friendly but not have sustainable certification?

Yes. Not all palm oil comes from areas where orang-utans are found. Zoos Victoria uses the orang-utan as a palm oil ambassador but the production of palm oil can be just as destructive to the habitat of thousands of other species. Ask for 100% RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil as it aims to be wildlife friendly.

Is Book & Claim GreenPalm the same as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil?

No. Some companies are using a Book & Claim GreenPalm which is a great place to start but is an interim offset system set up to increase demand for CSPO, not and end-goal.

How do I know I can trust RSPO Certification of palm oil?

Currently, when it comes to palm oil, RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is the best option in protecting wildlife and human livelihoods- it is global, independent and involves transparent reporting at every step of the supply chain.

By supporting CSPO we aim to place more importance and more pressure on the RSPO and Principles & Criteria of CSPO to enable it to become a stronger organisation. A vote of no-confidence in the RSPO certification could enable other countries to establish their own certifications which do not have the benefit of third-party global certification standards. This will also mean more confusion for consumers.

On a global scale, Australia is a relatively small consumer of palm oil so is it really an issue?

Absolutely. Our consumption is still contributing to this crisis. We have an opportunity to lead other larger countries in the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and palm oil labelling.

What has the campaign achieved so far?

Don’t Palm Us Off launched in 2009. In the first year more than 163,000 Australians signed a petition to tell us they want palm oil labelled.  This sparked parliamentary discussion and a bill calling for labelling legislation was introduced. During the first 12 months of the campaign five of the six major Australian food manufacturers committed to 100% CSPO by 2015 (two referred to the Don’t Palm Us Off campaign as well as the work of WWF in influencing their decision).

What can I do to help?

  • Visit our Zoopermarket onsite at Melbourne Zoo and online now to discover what’s behind the labels of your favourite brands and speak up on behalf of wild orang-utans.
  • Visit our website for more information www.zoo.org.au/palmoil

 

Did you know?
  • The production of palm oil typically costs the lives of up to 50 orang-utans each week.

  • Palm oil is found in around half of the food products on our supermarket shelves.

  • Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is palm oil that is produced under a third-party global certification scheme through the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

  • Only when palm oil is clearly labelled and food and grocery manufacturers are using 100% CSPO can consumers have the right to make informed choices.

  • Grocery manufacturers play an important role as the conduit between palm oil supplier and the consumer. You can help ensure that all palm oil coming into Australia is CSPO and clearly labelled. Contact the manufacturer of your favourite products today.

  • Don't Palm Us Off does not advocate for a boycott of palm oil. A mass boycott may push manufacturers to source alternative oils like soy or rapeseed which can be just as destructive. It is crucial that we invest in developing sustainable systems that protect environmental and social systems now rather than diverting the problem.