Because paim oil is used in such large quantities all over the world, the demand for plantations is high. The creation of new plantations requires large areas of natural forest to be destroyed, threatening many species of plants and animals. Orangutan habitats have been particularly affected by this industry. Some people believe that in fifteen years, 98% of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests will be gone if this trend continues.
In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed. Their objective is to “promote the groth and use of sustainable oil palm products through creditable global standards and engagement of stakeholders.” The commitee works with outside organizations to define the criteria for sustainalbe production of palm oil and communicates this information to palm oil company stakeholders and to the public. By certifying plantations with these criteria and holding them to it, the stakeholders know they are investing in something they agree with. By having stakeholders in these companies helps to hold the plantations accountable.
In this context, sustainable refers solely to the methods used to create the palm oil — the product is exactly the same. Palm oil is often made in the third world, where regulations are scarce and conflicts are frequent, so sustainable palm oil is palm oil created outside these too sullying factors.
Sustainable palm oil is palm oil that meets the predetermined standards by the aforementioned Roundtable On Sustainable Oil committee, a gathering of producers, manufacturers and environmental group. These standards include “fertiliser use, fuel use, methane from mill wastes and the maintenance of the water level in plantations on peat being accepted.”
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