Where the Palm Oil story begins…

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil from the palm fruit, which flourish and grow where heat and rainfall are abundant like in a rainforest. AND literally, palm oil is in around 50% of anything and everything! From your work snacks, beauty products, pet food … you name it. The aim of this blog? To promote a move towards more Sustainable Palm Oil (SPO) use in the future.

But, what’s the problem with palm oil?

  • Deforestation – large lots of land and forests are cleared to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations. These clear an average of 300 football fields worth of rainforest an hour just for palm oil.
  • Animal extinction – this level of deforestation has pushed many species towards extinction. The orangutans now have 5-10 years whilst Sumatran tigers have less than 3 years.
  • Climate change issues from increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Chester Zoo, Sustainable Palm Oil, SPO, challengeHillyer McKeown (HM) moving forward with sustainable palm oil:

We have taken the steps to remove all unsustainable palm from products here at HM, from biscuits and snacks, to hand soaps and cleaning products. This is in correspondence with Chester Zoo Projects, and taking part in the Sustainable Palm Oil Challenge to create a market for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

The Chester Zoo report ‘Our Position on Palm Oil’ suggests that boycotting palm oil completely may actually increase demand for other, less efficient edible oils and cause more negative environmental impacts and deforestation elsewhere. Accordingly with this idea, we want to promote and raise awareness of SPO use, and the steps you can take to use these.

For more information, check out the Chester Zoo – Act For Wildlife Campaign site and follow #ActforWildlife on social media.

HM is proud to champion SPO being the first workplace in the world to make the commitment.

What can I do to increase Sustainable Palm Oil use?

So okay, Palm Oil is hard to identify, because it is technically a vegetable oil and has over 30 names in ingredient lists. See our Sustainable Palm Oil Guide for more information on which ingredient names to avoid, and which SPO approved labels to look out for.

Confused yet? We certainly were when choosing SPO.

So, here is a very small visual sample of the brands and goods that include conflict palm oil (not fully sustainable, no information provided, not sustainable at all).


And here is a visual showing the limited choice (at the moment of writing) of brands that use SPOs or who have boycotted it completely…

So here are some examples of the little things you could do:

  • Remove some of the above brands and goods which use unsustainable palm oil from your daily life – it may be difficult but cutting back on these one by one, using better and more sustainable alternatives can really make a difference.
  • Try not to buy products with a heavy amount of packaging.
  • Eat and use more whole, fresh and organic foods and products.
  • Make meals from scratch for yourself whenever you can.
  • Encourage your friends and relatives to use more SPO accredited brands – inform others of your newly acquired knowledge.
  • Shop at a local farmer’s market if possible.
  • If you are feeling bold, make some noise! Contact brands encouraging them to switch to less packaging and to consider using SPO in their products.
  • Sign petitions on social media which encourage using SPO.
  • Look at labels and ingredient lists – use companies certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Look for these labels:

Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO, SPO     

Find out more about SPO

Remember the 2018 Iceland Christmas Advert that was banned due to use of ‘political advertising’? This gives a great visual representation of what the unsustainable palm oil industry is causing and how we could be helping. As is the ground-breaking documentary series Our Planet available on Netflix.

Chester Zoo, Sustainable Palm Oil, SPO, Sustainable Palm Oil CityRead more about SPO and what you can do from WWF, ZSL London Zoo and Rainforest Rescue.

PLUS Chester has been named as the world’s FIRST sustainable palm oil city in the world!

This involved an incredible collaboration of businesses and individuals in Chester, including a dedicated team which united specifically to tackle the Palm Oil Challenge.

And if you want to join in saving the planet this December, check out our SPO Christmas Food Shopping List. All products are available on the high street. Do your bit this Christmas!