WWF Australia and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) have released an independent report that provides a launch pad for increasing the proportion of sustainably-sourced palm oil supplies in the Australian market.
According to AFGC chief executive officer, Gary Dawson, the report assesses the facts, myths and challenges surrounding palm oil and highlights the commitment of major Australian manufacturers and importers to source sustainable palm oil.
"It lays out a way forward, including the need for better understanding of supply chains, better alignment of supply-side and demand-side expectations, and work to overcome significant logistical challenges,” Dawson said.
The switch to sustainable palm oil production is critical to the survival of the environment as conventional production produces significant greenhouse gas emissions and is eliminating the natural habitat of many engendered species.
WWF-Australia’s chief executive officer, Dermot O’Gorman, believes that committing to the change will require increased collaboration between business, government and civil society organisations.
“The recent boom in palm oil exports has undoubtedly resulted in economic growth and job creation in relatively poor regions,” O’Gorman said. “However the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations has come at the cost of pristine rainforest in places like Borneo and Sumatra – home to some of the world’s most endangered and iconic species including orangutan and tigers,” he said.
“Unsustainable palm oil production is also responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, and in some cases has displaced indigenous communities that rely on forests for food and shelter. Ensuring that palm oil contributes to economic development while also conserving precious ecosystems requires a major shift away from business as usual.”
O’Gorman said that unsustainable production must be phased out in order to preserve the environment and has called upon governments to support corporations with initiates and land use planning polices to achieve this.
Woolworths was targeted earlier this by environmental campaigners for their use of palm oil in hot cross buns during Easter.