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EditTitle:Sustainable Palm Oil
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EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_39922110.jpg
EditImage Description:Azman harvests oil palm fruit near Pasoh Forest Reserve. © Benjamin Drummond
EditPhoto Credit:© Benjamin Drummond
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Palm oil is one of the most widely used vegetable oils in the world. You’ve probably used it a dozen times today without even realizing it.


It is found in half the ​products on supermarket shelves. It’s in your sandwich, chips and cookies. You used it to brush your teeth. You even fed it to your dog​.

It’s extremely versatile and incredibly efficient – oil palm trees produce more oil per hectare than any other crop. That’s good. ​So it’s no surprise that global demand for palm oil has doubled since 2000. But while this exceptional growth has provided work for millions of producers, it has also posed unprecedented threats to local people and wildlife, especially in Indonesia and Malaysia, where 85% of the world’s oil palm is grown. Deforestation, draining and planting palm on peat lands, land disputes with rural communities — all of these have been major consequences of the global palm oil boom​.​


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EditSection title:Our plan
EditSection subtitle:CI recognizes the upsides of palm oil production. And we are working hard to minimize the downsides.
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    Edit Item Title:Growing supply
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    Edit Item Text:We help growers implement more sustainable production practices that improve productivity, eliminate deforestation and conserve critical forests and peatlands. We support smallholder producers with training and resources to increase yields and improve livelihoods.
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    Edit Item Title:Engaging consumers
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    Edit Item Text:We ask that consumers like you join us. Learn more about palm oil. Look for the RSPO trademark on the products you buy. Tell the companies that make those products to commit to more sustainable palm oil sourcing. Let them know it’s important to you.
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    Edit Item Title:Promoting demand
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    Edit Item Text:We ask processors, consumer goods companies and retailers to use 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil that meets and exceeds the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). And we ask that they follow a pathway of continuous improvement that leads from sustainability certificates, to physical sources, to a fully segregated supply chain that allows them to trace their palm oil back to sustainably managed sources. We support companies as they implement these commitments, providing guidance on the transition to more sustainable sources and addressing existing supply chain and market barriers.
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    Edit Item Title:Strengthening policy
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    Edit Item Text:We ask governments to ensure that their policy and financial incentives support more sustainable palm oil production and do not directly or indirectly contribute to deforestation or social conflict. We provide scientific advice to inform natural resource planning and decision-making.
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    EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_56586355.jpg
    EditImage Alt Text:Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia.
    EditTitle:By the numbers
    EditSubtitle:55 million tons of palm oil
    EditText:55 million tons of palm oil are produced globally on 16 million hectares of land, with projected growth of 5% per year until 2020.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Vaara
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      EditSection Title:Destruction of habitat
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        EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_84641881.jpg
        EditImage Description: A young orangutan wandering in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. © Will Turner
        EditText: The exponential growth of palm oil poses unprecedented threats to forests, wildlife and people in the areas where it is grown and harvested. In these regions, and increasingly in Africa and Latin America, tropical forests are being converted to oil palm plantations. And peatlands — wetlands with carbon-rich soils — are being drained for cultivation. This results in the significant emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as threatening the last remaining habitats for endangered species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger. And the basic rights of people and communities are increasingly at risk due to land disputes between palm producers and indigenous communities.
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        EditPhoto Credit:© Will Turner
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          EditSection Title:The invisible ingredient
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            EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_63326268.jpg
            EditImage Description: Palm oil fruit. © Benjamin Drummond / Sara Joy Steele
            EditText: If palm oil is found in half of all products on supermarket shelves, how is it considered an invisible ingredient? Palm oil is often listed using many different ingredient names you probably don’t recognize when you look at product labels. Some of the most common names include: Palm Kernel Oil, Palmitate, Palmate, Hydrated palm glycerides, Cetyl palmitate and Octyl palmitate. If your favorite product contains palm oil, contact the manufacturer and ask them to use certified sustainable palm oil. If the manufacturer already uses sustainable palm oil, ask them to add the logo to product packaging. Adding a sustainable logo helps consumers make the best choice to protect the environment.
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            EditSection title:Contact
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              John Buchanan
              Senior Director, Sustainable Food & Agriculture Markets
              jbuchanan@conservation.org
              703.341.2539

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              Melissa Thomas
              Senior Manager, Sustainable Food & Agriculture Markets
              mthomas@conservation.org
              703.341.2631

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              More of Our Work Links

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              EditTitle:Climate
              EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_30785027.jpg
              EditLink:/what/Pages/Climate.aspx
              EditImage Alt Text:Night falls over Rio de Janeiro. © Nikada

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              EditTitle:Science and Innovation
              EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_80568511.tif
              EditLink:/how/pages/science-and-innovation.aspx
              EditImage Alt Text:Scientists set a camera trap. © Benjamin Drummond

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              EditTitle:The Ocean
              EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_16084886.jpg
              EditLink:/what/Pages/oceans.aspx
              EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse