Palm Oil Free is at the core of Orange Power. Here you can find everything you need to know about Palm Oil and why we choose to avoid it at ALL costs.
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a primary ingredient often found in food, cleaning products, washing powders and liquids and the production of it contributes to the destruction of tropical rainforest and the demise of endangered animals.
To offer all consumers environmentally sustainable alternative household products that really work and by doing so, eliminate the use of unsustainable and environmentally damaging resources.
One of the ways we have worked to achieve our company’s mission is to develop alternative renewable resources to the use of Petroleum and Palm Oil, as both of these are currently unsustainable and the latter is causing massive destruction of virgin rainforests in SE Asia.
“In South-East Asia, alone, the likely equivalent of 300 football fields is deforested every hour, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,000 orangutans each year. Some 90% of orangutan habitat has been lost and at the current rate of deforestation, orang-utans could be extinct in the wild in less than 10 years.” Reference.
While we have reduced our reliance on petroleum based ingredients over the years, we started work about two years ago to find alternatives to our use of Palm Oil derived ingredients and to do something urgently to stop the prolific destruction of virgin rainforest and subsequent loss of habitat for endangered species like Orangutans, tigers and many other species of flora and fauna.
In the past six months, approximately 15% of the remaining 10,000 hectares of Tripa Peatland forest has been illegally cleared, and more than 20 fires continue to rage in the reserve. The main reason for this unsustainable rainforest loss is the ever-increasing demand for palm oil.” Reference.
Sustainable Palm Oil
We looked at the use of ‘Certified Sustainable Palm Oil’ (CSPO) but found that this cannot be sourced in an environmentally sustainable way with any confidence in Australia. Much of the CSPO is combined with all the other Palm Oil and sold (at best) as ‘containing’ sustainable Palm Oil. The latest statistics reveal that approximately 10% of the world’s production is CSPO but only about half of this is purchased as CSPO. The balance is either not sold or pooled in with non certified Palm Oil. Reference
After investigating this thoroughly, we felt we had no choice but to move away from Palm Oil use.
Aware Environmental Ltd. fully supports (our manufacturing division is a member) the intentions of the ‘Round table on Sustainable Palm Oils’ (RSPO) in their endeavour to bring about awareness of the devastating effects of the palm oil industry. However the industry has been very slow to respond and we felt that we could not continue to be a part of the problem. The very existence of the RSPO is an indication of the problems within the palm oil industry – even the industry acknowledges that urgent action was needed.
Identifying products with Palm Oil
For example glycerine is almost always made from palm oil, as are most “plant based” surfactants and many other natural ingredients. We found the harder we looked the more problems with traceability we found. In one case we were assured in writing from our supplier that the base material was coconut oil, on further investigation we found that some batches were in fact made from coconut oil but others were based on non certified palm oil from the Malay Peninsula.
Aware Environmental Ltd. products now use mainly Coconut Oil based ingredients (even though this costs more) because the harvesting of coconuts has for centuries been a sustainable industry supporting many island communities.
These island communities have an excess supply of coconut oil and by using this more environmentally sustainable oil source for use in our household products, we hope to weaken the demand for palm oil and therefore reduce the impact on the rainforest through large scale deforestation.
“The tropical world has over one billion coconut palms, producing over 50 billion coconuts each year. And yet, because of the low income earned on the world market from coconut products, many coconut groves are run down, with nuts and old trees lying where they fall, encouraging plant disease and insect pests.
With fluctuating copra prices, farmers only harvest their nuts when prices are high or when they are in desperate need of cash. For many remote islands with plenty of coconuts, copra is still a risky venture because of the infrequency of shipping services.
Benefits of using Coconut derived ingredients
1. The majority of plantations around the Pacific have been in existence for centuries and are now under used as the world has switched to Palm Oil for food use. Rather than waste the existing resource, these coconuts are now finding some use for replacing Palm Oil.
2. Coconut plantations are generally grown on very poor, sandy coastal soils and don’t need wholesale slashing of virgin rainforests to grow. A local sustainable industry existed right throughout the Pacific, before the advent of major Palm Oil plantations.
3. Other benefits to local growers from Coconuts (called ‘the tree of life’ in many Pacific Islands) is for its health and nutrition value (Coconut oil is the major fat in their diet, which is mainly vegetables and fish). Native healers also use coconut oil to treat a wide variety of health problems including like abscesses, burns, colds, dysentery etc. Many villages also use the oil and husk for fuel and lighting and the timber can be used for building etc.
Like Planet Ark and Melbourne Zoo, we also understand that coconut production would not be sustainable either if everyone immediately switched to Coconut Oil and therefore we’re working actively (here in Australia) with primary producers on ways to source our ingredients from easily renewable vegetable oils such as canola and sugar.
All in all we believe we’re steering the best possible environmental and ethical course through these issues and as far as we know we’re the only company in Australia with this level of commitment to these issues. Ask your current supplier where they source their raw materials from.
We are certainly the only major supermarket ‘household cleaning’ brand to have opened ourselves up to scrutiny and successfully passed an independent audit by GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) and received endorsement by Planet Ark for many of our product lines.
We want people to understand that there are alternatives to the continued use of unsustainable Palm Oil derived ingredients. While it may not be practical for all manufacturers to adopt these alternatives, we would hope consumers concerned about the future of our rainforests and subsequent loss of habitat will support our efforts and start to question their current suppliers about their policy and efforts in this area.
Orange Power and Melbourne Zoo
– a joint force
Orange Power has teamed up with Melbourne Zoo, so every time you choose to buy one of our palm oil free products, you are helping to support its animal protection projects.
Melbourne Zoo runs campaigns like Don’t Palm Us Off and Wash for Wildlife and it is dedicated to protecting animals being wiped out by the production and use of irresponsible domestic cleaning products. Projects like these driving the awareness of issues relating to palm oil production, the conservation and rehabilitation of orangutans and the impacts of harsh chemical cleaners on our precious wildlife lie at the heart of Orange Power’s commitment to being palm oil free and toxic chemical free. We are green to the core in everything we do!
We are proud to make palm oil free products and as you can imagine we’ve been introduced to many like-minded individuals wanting to make a difference to the environment along the way. We were introduced to 16-year old Thomas King back in 2010, ahead of his first trip to Borneo and if you want to learn about the place, we recommend reading about Thomas’ trip to Borneo here.
It is inspiring to see somebody so young and passionate getting out and doing something about our precious environment that is being ruined by unsustainable palm oil production. In May 2012, Orange Power sponsored Thomas to partake in a new conservation and education project in Indonesia for two weeks.
Did you know…
…every time you buy from Orange Power and sister product AWARE you are also supporting Planet Ark? In fact, in the 12 months leading up to January 2012, we contributed more than $100,000 to Planet Ark.
Planet Ark works with a range of companies to determine the many ways in which they can reduce their day-to-day and long term impact on the environment. It is commonly known for its recycling campaigns ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ and ‘Cards 4 Planet Ark’.
We are constantly working with Planet Ark to develop sustainable and environmentally responsible products across our Orange Power and Aware range.
Planet Ark is currently working with Australian Orangutan Project and Borneo Orangutan Survival to save hundreds of orangutans threatened by palm oil production and 10c from every Aware laundry product will support this effort.