In a shock move, considering their very low ethical score overall, Iceland have become the first UK supermarket to announce that it will stop using palm oil in own brand products by the end of 2018. Having recently announced that it will be removing plastic packaging from its own brand products too, is Iceland on a mission to improve its ethical footprint?
Palm oil is the cause of much environmental and habitat destruction, and a heavily debated topic amongst vegans. Derived from plants and used in almost half of household products, it is technically vegan. Yet its production often leads to the destruction of the rainforest and habitats, with Greenpeace attributing the decline of 80% of Sumatran elephants to palm oil companies tearing down the Indonesian rainforest.
There have been reports of orangutans being clubbed to death by palm oil workers, and poachers are often more easily able to access previously protected habitats as a result of deforestation and clearing of plantations.
Whilst there are palm oil certifications, including USDA certified, RSPO certified, and other sustainable claims, much of this has come under question recently, with many environmental organisations suggesting that such claims and certifications are “greenwash”. Corporate members of the RSPO have been found to be some of the most active companies involved in deforestation.
It’s not that all palm oil is bad – it just depends on where it comes from and what is being destroyed to obtain it. At the moment, this is so hard to determine.
Ethical Consumer Magazine encourage readers and ethical consumers to boycott products from companies that aren’t using 100% responsibly sourced palm oil now. Promising to source responsibly in the future is no longer good enough.
Of course, you may also choose to avoid products containing any palm oil, whether it be sustainably sourced or not. Or at least try to avoid it as much as possible.
So the news that Iceland will be removing palm oil from its own brand products is hugely welcome, and will hopefully spur on other supermarkets and brands to do the same.
In the mean time, here are a list of a few companies who do not use palm oil…
Booja Booja (Vegan Chocolate)
Pure Nuff Stuff
Tofurkey (Vegan Mock Meats)
Meridian (Nut Butters etc..)
Dee’s (Vegan Foods)
Seed & Bean
Heavenly Organics Skincare
Bio-D (Laundry & Cleaning Products)
There are of course, many other companies who do not use palm oil, and many more which commit to using 100% responsibly sourced oil. I encourage you to write to your favourite companies if they do not follow the best practices and encourage them to ditch the palm oil, and follow in the footsteps of Iceland.
Remember we have power as consumers. Power to make the world a better place.
As always, thanks for reading.