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Mondelez cuts ties with 12 palm oil suppliers, citing deforestation (supplychaindive.com)
370 points by vinnyglennon 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments

This is really great. I switched off products that use palm oil a while back, but I always feel so isolated when making changes like this. When a giant company does it, that has real impact. Thanks to the people out there that are making this sort of thing happen -- here's to hoping real good comes out of this.

When you buy, for example, soap, what ingredients do you look for instead?

I avoid palm oil in foods for the simple reason I don't consider anything made with palm oil to be a "whole" food. But I've never known what to do about other products like soap.

P.S. To bystanders, you may think your soaps don't contain palm oil. Check for anything like "lauryl sulfate". That's (probably) palm oil.

Soap is really tricky. The realistic alternatives at a commercial scale are coconut oil (but coconuts take twice the land to grow, compared to palm kernels) or animal fat (which you may not want in your soap). Sustainably sourced palm oil is probably the best option for soap making.

Also olive oil.


I thought they only made soap like that in the movie Fight Club...

Got any links? This sounds fascinating.

Sorry, I was just being a smartass :p

Sounded like a great gag gift for Christmas haha

On a related note, we really should be considering how much soap/detergents we really need. Not just deforestation, they are a major part of water and soil pollution. P&G, Uniliver et al. really sold the idea of using A LOT of soaps to everyone.

My parents, born in India in late 50s, rarely had access to soaps and detergents growing up in the countryside. They are still very conscientious in how much detergent they use. It's a lot of bad habits that mega-corps have tried to push onto us.

That's an interesting perspective. I'm mostly with you- for example I wear things multiple times before washing them- but what about for bathing? Water just doesn't cut the grease & aromas.

It's really hard to do this - nearly impossible to cut out palm oil just by boycotting. It's a $60 billion industry and it's found in 50% of products on supermarket shelves (soap, shampoo, Nutella, Oreos, pie crust, peanut butter, Earth Balance, (!!)).

And it can go under so many names after it's been processed by the Oleochemical industry - https://www.ran.org/the-understory/palm_oil_s_dirty_secret_t...

For individual people it’s not hard at all to radically reduce palm oil consumption. I don’t think I eat any palm oil on a regular basis except maybe from occasional chocolates or restaurant meals.

Not eating Oreo filling or Nutella is just generally good health advice (if you want chocolate + hazelnut spread, you can buy ones made out of hazelnuts and chocolate instead of mostly sugar and palm oil; plenty of available packaged cookies have little or no vegetable oil). Plenty of available peanut butter has nothing but “peanuts” as an ingredient. Make your own pie crust using flour and butter (or lard). Etc.

Avoiding palm oil in soap/shampoo is harder; best first step is probably to reduce soap consumption. Most people use way more soap than necessary, way more often than necessary.

Dr Bronner's bar soap uses palm oil grown sustainably in Ghana (according to them): https://www.drbronner.com/media-center/press-release/dr-bron...

Their liquid soap doesn't contain palm oil.

Is that the soap with the weird cult-ish text plastered all over their packaging? (Great for reading on the toilet, lol)

You can buy Aleppo soap or something with similar ingredients. We use several soap products that are based on olive oil.

Likely big companies do this because there are enough of people like you out there who vote with their wallets, so I think you succeeded, congrats and thanks!

I'm more inclined to believe that it's the media causing negative PR for the companies. Brand image is everything to big companies so a slew of media attacks around a particular topic will often cause the company to change tactics.

I know some people disapprove of it as a tactic, but I think it's been shown more than once that Greenpeace's shaming campaigns can be quite effective.

that's also just an attempt to generate negative publicity though.

True. Single most important factor that brings changes to any publicly traded company direction is revenue growth.

Unless you're a government-entitled monopoly (in the US: ISPs). Then it doesn't matter what anyone says about you (the company), and 'voting with your wallet' means you (the consumer/citizen) go without a crucial utility.

Or you can start your own utility and be the change you want to see in the world. A lifestyle business does not appear to be out of reach for those with some technical skills and a modest budget[0]. [0] https://startyourownisp.com/

I've considered doing this in the past. You need more than a modest budget to maintain such a system, especially if you plan to sell service (and, inherently, support). It seems like it would be a full time job.

In addition, you still rely on those monopolies to provide you with the utility: https://startyourownisp.com/posts/fiber-provider/

Since it sounds like you've researched this, what are more sustainable alternatives that you've found? Or open to anyone else's findings, too.

Palm oil is largely used for three things:

(1) as a feedstock for making surfactants in personal cleaners (shampoos, toothpaste, bath gel) like sodium laureth sulfate [1]; (2) as a substitute for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (incl. trans fats) in food manufacturing; partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils (containing unsaturated fatty acids) will alter their melting point and texture to produce solid-at-room-temp shortening; and (3) as a cooking oil. Lately, it has also seen some use in biodiesel.

To replace palm oil in surfactants, you can use coconut oil (which is even more intensive to produce), or by synthesizing the precursors from mined hydrocarbons (typically oil or natural gas) using a variety of clever chemical reactions; or lard from animals, which requires raising animals.

To replace palm oil in food manufacturing, you can use coconut oil, lard, or you can partially hydrogenate unsaturated fatty acids derived from many vegetable oils; by doing the latter you're converting some of your product into trans fat.

To replace palm oil in cooking, choose from a variety of other oils and fats.

Unfortunately, almost all of the European and US consumption is for manufacturing, while elsewhere it's used for cooking as well. While European and US suppliers do own palm oil plantations, they also source from other producers. This complicates the market: boycotts against big manufacturers of soap or food will drive the price of palm oil lower, increasing the likelihood that it will be offloaded to a different set of countries as cheap cooking oil.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecanol

> I switched off products that use palm oil a while back

Do you have any reliable resources on how to do this? I would like to, but I'm always dubious of the resources I find, since they seem to be biased. Not that I don't trust their information, but I just have a hard time verifying it.

I just go by the labels. If the labels aren't reliable, then I'd have problems. I tend to think they are reliable because of people with allergies, but I suppose it depends on where you live and how much you trust your vendors.

I mean there is a chance I've got a product with wrong labeling. I just accept I have to trust other people or the labels to figure out if information is incorrect.

You are certainly correct in that we have to trust the regulators and vendors. I just don't recall seeing a label specifically mentioning palm oil, and I'm dubious about labeling requirements to begin with. Others mention that vendors may get away with including it as "vegetable oil" on a label, and I wouldn't be surprised.

You might also be interested in Buycott.

for food, read the ingredients, if it says palm oil or vegetable oil don't buy it

I'm relatively certain that I (in the U.S.) have never purchased any oil labeled as "vegetable" oil that gave any indication it may contain palm oil.

Is there oil labeled as "vegetable oil" that contains palm oil? Or is there another reason you think it should be avoided?

He's not really talking about bottles of vegetable oil used in cooking. He's talking about products that use sneaky labeling to either hide the palm oil or make formulation flexible- e.g. if the nutrition label lists "vegetable oil", they can make the product using whatever vegetable oil is convenient that day.

>vegetable oil

but what if it's just regular sunflower oil or something of the sort?

vegetable oil is generally specified by which type, since some oils (soy, for me) are allergens and could really mess someone up if they randomly eat the wrong kind. it would say something like "vegetable oil (one or more of the following: canola, soy, sunflower oil)"

Always assume it’s the lowest common denominator. Sunflower oil is more expensive so it won’t be that, if it was they would say.

What do you perceive as the benefit of not buying products that use palm oil?

For reference Mondelez makes Oreos, Nilla Wafers, ChipsAhoy cookies, Ritz crackers and many others (https://www.mondelezinternational.com/brand-family)

It’s basically the cookies/chocolate-division of Kraft foods, correct?

Yes, Mondelez bought them back in 2012.

Correction: Mondelez is a spin off from Kraft. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondelez_International

what about Milka Oreo ?

Milka too, as well as Toblerone, Côte D'or, Green & Black's Organic, Terry's Chocolate Orange, in addition to all the Cadbury stuff.

good excuse to buy some Oreos today...

So are they just cutting ties with suppliers that are actively sawing down rainforests? How about suppliers that have already destroyed huge swathes of it but aren't currently expanding their plantations, surely they don't deserve Mondelez's business if this isn't just a PR stunt?

If you want it to keep going, support Greenpeace.

Oh the "nuclear power is bad let's keep using non-renewable fuels" greenpeace? No, thanks

I’d say the lesser evil of these two is the one that can be switched off faster and doesn’t any extremely long lasting side effects even if it’s less green “right now”. There are various alternatives to nuclear power that are getting better quickly and will get only more popular as fossil fuels get less attractive.

So you're saying atmospheric CO2 is not an extremely long-lasting side effect?

the effects of a +2C climate will wildly, massively, unspeakably eclipse that of a hundred chernobyls.

we are on course for at least a +4C world.

Is Greenpeace still using bunker oil to power its ship, and dumping garbage and human waste at sea, or is that all fixed now?

(Fueling a ship with bunker oil is only slightly less bad to the environment than shoveling baby koalas into the furnace.)

Really impressive stuff coming out of the palm oil activism front recently. A series of victories in only a few days - a rare thing indeed in the environmental world

Great to see it indeed - but I don't get why now and not earlier. Deforestation of biggest and oldest rain forests due to this is known at least for last 10 years, probably more (that's when I heard about it the first time, with all the controversy that surrounds EU subsidizing this due to bio fuels).

I've been to Borneo 2 years ago, the views all over Malaysian parts of it (and actual Malaysia mainland too, you see it from plane when landing in Kuala Lumpur very clearly) were extremely depressing to me - rows and rows of palm trees in perfect grid where you expect true chaotic wilderness, and basically no other plants around it, just bare soil. That put a pretty sour taste to otherwise beautiful vacation, not sure if I want to visit that country again

"Great to see it indeed - but I don't get why now and not earlier. "

There was a story posted earlier this week about orangutan populations on decline due to Cadbury using Palm Oil.

This story made me rather angry, as they are just trying to live and we need to make sure they can.

> Great to see it indeed - but I don't get why now and not earlier

You're seeing results now, but that doesn't mean the actions haven't been going on for a while. When I was at Unilever ~7 years ago, I sat across from one of the environmental lawyers working on their sustainability initiatives. At that point in time, in order to sustainably source palm oil you had to:

1) Define what "sustainable" meant 2) Create, support, or at the very least integrate with whatever body does the certification and monitoring of the sustainability aspect 3) Drill down multiple levels deep and ensure you know the entire chain of custody of your raw supplies at all times. The equivalent of recursively auditing every single dependency of every single dependency in your source code, where every single dependency has the ability to arbitrarily inject net new dependencies without notice. 4) Enough market clout to force suppliers through all of this hassle. Which in the end doesn't net the supplier much additional income, since the increased prices get eaten by the increased compliance and production costs. 5) Enough compliant global suppliers to minimize supply risk. 6) Time delay related to implementation of all of the above, plus contract re-negotiations with suppliers which add in language related to the sustainability obligations.

Unilever disclosed earlier this year the entire list of 300 direct suppliers and 1,400 mills they source palm oil from[1]. They've also shown their suppliers that the requirement has teeth and that non-compliance will result in being dropped[2]. That's only possible after over a decade of effort in rolling out the global resources, infrastructure, processes, and supply chain risk planning necessary to be able to do so at such a massive scale. But now that supply chain transparency for palm oil has been developed at scale by the large CPG[3] companies, the sustainable sourcing barrier is a lot lower for mid-sized manufacturers and we'll hopefully start seeing more of this.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-unilever-palmoil-transpar...

[2] https://www.cips.org/en/supply-management/news/2018/may/unil...

[3] Consumer Packaged Goods. Companies like Unilever, P&G, Mars, etc that make all the random little things you pick up from the store during your day-to-day shopping.

Related: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdpspllWI2o an ad Iceland(company) created to counter palm oil usage.

Very sadly this ad has just been banned in the UK. The UK regulator's statement [0] said that the criteria for banning it was that it was "An advertisement which is inserted by or on behalf of a body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature." Greenpeace are the body in question who created the video and have apparently been screening it on their website. Iceland (the retail organisation not the country) would have been showing it on their behalf as their Christmas ad, where I think it could have been very effective in nudging public opinion.

[0] https://www.clearcast.co.uk/press/iceland-advert/

I'm not sure I'd call it 'very sad'. We have very strict rules about political advertising in the UK, and I'm pleased that they get upheld.

In any case, the ad seems to be having no trouble reaching people.

It’s not political, it’s an appeal to morality. Just like ads to support e.g. children’s hospitals, which I see all the time on UK TV. Banning this ad is highly hypocritical.

Morality is a central part of politics though. We like to think that the environment can be scientific and apolitical. But that is not the case. Caring about the rainforest or whatever is a political choice. We don't have to do anything. And environmental politics is always about projecting that morality onto other people who may not agree with you. That is why it is necessary to observe the niceties of democratic society. And really the politicisation of these kind of issues ia better than apathy.

Read Clearcast's opinion again. It has nothing to do with the fact that the content was political, but because it contravened a very specific rule about one organisation running a political message on behalf of another.

It’s a brilliant marketing step. They knew it would get banned but would only make them look good compared to the regulator, as a result it got way more media coverage than the ad would have got on it’s own, Iceland is going through a real period of change with its new managing director/CEO and this is a manifestion if that.

Reminds me of how The Police were famously "Banned by the BBC!"

Stewart Copland was on Sirius recently saying that the band was never banned, it was just a marketing gimmick thought by the record company to sell more albums.

And it worked.

There are some really interesting reasons that the BBC have banned records [0], including 'might be offensive to other stutterers', 'might remind listeners of scud missiles', 'broadcasting of an SOS in Morse code', 'too morbid', 'the claim the Second World War began in 1941' and 'nauseating piece of material'

[0] https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/articles/46f837da-9ffa-494d-94e7...

Clearcast aren't the regulator, that would be ASA.

Notice that Clearcast wouldn't have recommended against the ad if it had been created by Iceland.

Iceland are allowed to create ads saying "we've stopped using palm oil, and here's why".

This is, in short, a transparent marketing ploy.

> Clearcast aren't the regulator, that would be ASA.

You are right, Clearcast is an NGO [0]. It's not the regulator, but "Broadcasters make private arrangements through Clearcast to secure public law objectives".

> Notice that Clearcast wouldn't have recommended against the ad if it had been created by Iceland.

I had noticed that :-), it's the exact statement in the the Clearcast announcement I linked to.

> This is, in short, a transparent marketing ploy.

One which seems to have been very successful for all concerned.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clearcast

The video was created by Greanpeace (and has been previously published), Iceland have an agreement with them to use it (with logos swapped out) for the purposes of advertising their palm-oil-free-ness. I'm not sure if the poem was written specifically for/by GP or if they are using it under licence.

Western boycotts don't affect the palm oil market much because most of the world's palm oil is consumed by India where it is prized for its cheapness, and where sustainability concerns are dismissed as a western luxury.

Could you cite a source for that? India's use of palm oil is at about 15% from what I can find.[0] It's a big number, but not as big as "most" suggests.

Moreover, the same source lists that about 95% is used as edible oil. In a country with high poverty, to claim "sustainability concerns are dismissed as a western luxury" is just a statement of fact. If you don't know where your next meal is coming from, it is hard to care for orangutans dying in another country. This is not an excuse for apathy, it is just human nature.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/aug/10...

I'd be interested in seeing a source for this too. I happen to have a lot of Indian friends, and I'm a big foodie, so we talk about food a lot. Ghee seems to be the main cooking fat that's used (or coconut oil in the south), although just like we in the West were told to switch away from butter "because health reasons", Indians are told ghee is bad. Rapeseed oil ("canola" for the merkin) seems to be the main one, and Mustard oil gets used quite often too.

Yeah, I work on public health research that includes India and they always ask us the Ghee and Coconut oil questions.

Short answer is we don't know.

Long answer is I just write the software - ask the boss.

("canola" for the merkin)

"Canola" is Canadian in origin. In fact, the "Can" in "canola" means Canada.

Huh, I didn't know that, thanks for the tidbit!

It's not necessarily food, as palm oil is also used in cosmetics etc.


Ok I was wrong, India is 15%, and EU consumes a surprisingly high percentage at 12%. But still, subtracting the EU and US, 85% of the oil is consumed by developing countries that are too poor to worry about the environmental impacts.

These numbers, in my opinion, are still reductionist and keep you away from a solution. A more telling statistic would be the purpose for which the oil is used in these countries. My guess is usage of palm oil in cosmetic products is much higher in western countries. These products would be so much easier to boycott and regulate than cooking oil.

That being said, it seems like India is working on adding duties to palm oil leading to an increase in domestic price. [0]

[0] https://www.crisil.com/content/dam/crisil/our-analysis/views...

1. 12% of anyone's business is really significant. 2. Every step helps.

Some impact is better than no impact. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Is it though? I wonder about this a lot.

Let's say 100 farmers around the world sell palm oil, for $100 a tub. About half wreck the environment, about half are very careful and replant what they harvest.

Western people come in and start to refuse to buy the "environment wrecking" Palm Oil. So they go to the environmental friendly sellers, and start paying $150 for ethical palm oil. On the other hand, people that don't care or places that can get away with it continue to use forest destroying palm oil. There is now a price difference ($100 for normal stuff, $150 for ethical stuff), so most non-western demand shifts to the cheap stuff.

End result: Still 100 farmers selling palm oil. 50 being ethical, and 50 not.

The 50 unethical farmers still make $100 per tub. The 50 ethical farmers now make $150 per tub.

The environment seems no different. The only difference is that $50 got transferred from the banks of wealthy westerners to the ethical palm oil farmers. Which is nice and all, but I am not seeing how it changed anything in the environment.

You would need almost EVERYONE to switch to the ethical route for it to do anything. That would cause surplus supply and price drops of unethical palm oil. Even 50% of users switching seems not nearly enough.

Your scenario would still fix half of the forest-wrecking, so yes it is. Additionally, there is now an incentive to become an ethical farmer for the remaining half.

> Your scenario would still fix half of the forest-wrecking, so yes it is.

No, in my scenario only half the farmers were wrecking the forest anyway. That did not change.

> Additionally, there is now an incentive to become an ethical farmer for the remaining half.

Perhaps, but also higher costs. They may still be less ethical then the unethical farmers.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. So the gist of your concern is that pre-existing naturally occurring sustainable production might get windfall profits- but and the demand is not enough to change the remaining production.

This is analogous to the situation in electricity n markets and hydro production btw. Old hydro dams built in the 50s produce power for customers paying extra for "green power" and the money doesn't go to investments in wind/solar.

Or there’s an incentive for the unethical farmer to wreck twice as much to make up for the 50% decline in revenue.

If there is enough demand, the unethical farmers can move to the ethical side to make the better price.

Sure at some tipping point. But in my case the unethical farmers can easily sell the same stuff they already produce, just to a different part of the crowd.

You are arguing that 100% percent of the lost demand will be replaced. In reality it will be some fraction that is smaller than 100%.

What % of people in the world demand ethical palm oil?

if it's 50%.. and the current supply is 51%.. I don't think you change anything by the crusade except spend more money?

Not necessarily, Taleb had an essay which is also a chapter in his book "Skin in the Game" which I think you can find online, called "most intolerant wins: dicatorship of the Small Minority".

If a group can be loud and forceful, even if their numbers are small, they can create positive change to help orangutans

Most of the world's palm oil is being produced in Indonesia and Malaysia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_oil#/media/File:2013palm_...

India, China, the EU, and Indonesia are among the largest global consumers of palm oil according to this: https://www.palmoilandfood.eu/en/palm-oil-consumption

Europe reducing their palm oil use at least makes an impact, and should be encouraged.

I'm figuring India, China, and Indonesia heavily use palm oil given their geographic proximity to the largest source of palm oil cultivation, which is why it's cheap. More pressure should be put on Malaysia and Indonesia to curb deforestation for the sake of planting oil palms. Further, more pressure should continue to be put on corporate supply chains to decrease their palm oil use. The farmers of these countries are slashing and burning forest land because palm oil is the crop that is in demand. The change has to flow from the top down in order to stop desperate and ignorant suppliers from burning away their own lands and contributing to deforestation and climate change for a few pennies on the dollar.

A western ban makes it easier to apply international pressure. Not saying it's easy by any means, but it's easier.

Really no harm though in removing our use of it for a food oil or fuel. Do you agree?

I make and sell handmade soap with palm oil, among other oils. Unfortunately, palm is a special oil, and palmitic acid is an important part of the oil comp to produce a good bar. The only substitute is lard. While I don't mind using soap made from lard, it has a stigma in the marketplace (i.e. non-vegan, gross).

You can make handmade soaps with olive oil, too. So you don't have to cut any trees. Olive trees are good for environment, too.

You can make soap with lot of different oils. But different oils make different soaps. for instance a soap made exclusively with sunflower oil will be very soft and not bubbly, a soap made from coconut oil will be the exact contrary.

Yes, exactly. Handmade soaps are rarely made from a single oil. I use a blend of palm, coconut, avocado, and castor. What oils you use and what percentage each oil represents in the composition, determines the base properties of the soap. I experimented with many compositions to get to my current recipe that I really like.

Hope you’re not offended, but it sounds like you simply don’t care enough about this to make a change. There is a definitely a way to source from sustainable producers and/or change the recipe, but it will come at a cost. This is true in many businesses.

I think the unsustainable part is increasing consumerism. From this thread I gathered that palm oil is more edficient than e.g. coconut oil. So if people drop palm oil and switch to coconut oil, the sustainability problem will get worse.

For soapmaking the efficiency difference between palm oil and coconut oil is practically the same. If you are talking about oil production efficiency, I don't know.

Not offended. It's true. I don't care enough to make a change. This is partly because I use such a small amount of palm oil--maybe 200lbs annually--so my impact is minimal. Deforestation from palm oil production has been in the back of my mind for years. So far, my customers don't care as far as I can observe. I'm glad to see a big company taking a stand and informing consumers in the process. It's making me think about changing. Removing palm oil is not an option in my mind, but I might pay up for sustainable palm oil.

Is there any supply of non-deforested palm oil that you can tap into and charge your stigmatic customers extra?

You can get "sustainably produced" palm oil. https://www.soaperschoice.com/palm-oil

The cost is higher. I don't use the sustainably produced oil now. When all is said and done, it might increase my unit cost by ~15%--which is manageable really since unit margins are decent. The reason I don't use it is about 1 part Scrooge McDuck and 3 parts skepticism/cynicism. Without a relationship with the actual producers, I don't know what "sustainably produced" actually means.

You paid a designer to come up with a fancy logo that makes you feel good when you see it.

Hope you don't take this the wrong way but... but you don't _have_ to sell handmade soap, or eat cookies or whatever. It's your choice to do it.

Sure. You could also just pay a little more for raw ingredients and buy sustainably sourced, eco-friendly palm oil, which does exist.

Isn't lard actually a much better fat for soap?

I remember my grandma telling me of her home-made soap production using pig fat and lye.

They are comparable in my experience. When selecting oils for soap, the type of acid is the major factor. I am only aware of two palmitic acids in oil form: palm and lard.

palm oil is the most efficient oil to extract by practically a factor of 2 [1]. So in the long term, if global supply increases or stays stable, if we replace palm oil crops with another crop, eventually we'll make the problem worse and face more deforestation.

Can someone explain why this wouldn't be the case?

[1] according to this http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_yield.html

I keep trying to ask people this "What do you think the farmers will do if they can't grow oil palms?".

Cause the answer is obvious. They will not stop trying to make a living and working hard to feed their families. No, instead of growing the oil palm they will grow something else. And now we're at best right back where we started, but more realistically we are worse off, because there is a reason the farmers prefer oil palms. It is obviously because they are the most profitable, because they require the least work/land/capital for the most output. So the second best option they will choose for growing will be something that is even worse for the environment and the orangutans!

I believe that with palm oil the issue is that the entire tree is cut down as the oil is inside the core of the trunk. If people were soley using farmed trees, it wouldn't be so bad, but instead people are clearing animal habitats.

The oil is in the fruit of the tree not the trunk, they don't cut down the palms to extract the oil, they cut down the rainforest to make room for the palms. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_oil

Right, thanks for the clarification.

This the kind of political action I can live with. I’d like to see it in other markets, furniture, etc., anywhere natural resource extraction doesn’t include the mitigation of impact and offsetting the effects. This is Much much better than activists going vigilate and taking the violent aproach.

It's a shame it takes this much damage, and external pressure to occur first, before changes are made to something that should have been in place from the beginning. Just like anything I suppose. Disaster first, then fix. When will humans ever be proactive?

Maybe when they are immortal.

I suppose that attempting to limit further damage is a good start - so how's about they now actually buy some cleared land and reforest it?

Until then no more Cadbury's for me, though TBH since they sold out to this US megacorp the quality has gone to shit.

I had never seen a palm oil operation.

However, I read through and started following the blog of Taneli Roininen (http://www.gonebikefishing.com/) who is bicycling around the world before his major heart operation.

There are plenty of pictures and somehow I could relate to what he wrote, seeing vividly his pedalling, hearing the sounds and feeling the wind in my minds eye.

When his trails went by palm oil plantations, one could really feel the scale and impact, as well as his frustration. It made the whole palm oil industry more concrete in some strange way... they are big and destructive.

Cynics abound on hacker news.

Meanwhile, looking at this article with a systems perspective, this is incredibly good news. Large operational entities realizing that they are most performant when accountable to the public is a very, very good sign.

I mean call me cynical but this wouldn't have happened if they didn't get bad press about it recently

I find it so odd that people complain about a system enforcing efficiency and sustainability.

For example, I would never say in a whiny voice, “that plant only grows because it gets watered!” or “that student only works hard for good grades!” or “that product is only good because the brand wants to make more money!”

My point is: the why is less important to observe than the how. In this case, the WHY is that this company is just looking out for its own interests (it’s obvious, that’s what they do). HOW is it looking out for it’s own interests? By recognizing that it needs to be accountable to the critical, ethical public.

That is super cool and very interesting.

We should all add our voice to the growing consumer pressure around the world. Yesterday I contacted thrivemarket.com to complain about their carrying products using palm oil.

Does making palm oil require destroying the tree? I'm honestly ignorant about this subject.

The issue isn't damage to existing oil palms, but tearing down rainforest (including orangutan habitat) to make room for large plantations of oil palms.


> Half of the Bornean orangutan population has been wiped out in just 16 years, with habitat destruction by the palm oil industry a leading driver. More than three-quarters of Tesso Nilo national park, home to tigers, orangutans and elephants, has been converted into illegal palm oil plantations. Globally, 193 Critically Endangered, Threatened and Vulnerable species are threatened by palm oil production.

> The plantation sector – palm oil and pulp – is the single largest driver of deforestation in Indonesia. Around 24 million hectares of rainforest was destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, according to official figures released by the Indonesian government [1].

3/4 of a national park illegally logged and planted? What's it going to take for these places to get it together? Seriously. What?

Deforestation of existing land for agriculture, which leads to habitat loss and environmental degradation. I recommend a web search — there's lots of info out there.

I like how Europe (and USA to some extent) destroyed their forests and biodiversity long ago, and now are pushing other, poorer societies to preserve biodiversity for the whole world while staying poor.

If you're so concerned about forests why don't you grow some yourself instead of bullying other countres?

Expecting a lot of dislikes from Bay Area which is a huge plot of ecosystems destroyed for profit.

The deforested parts of the world absolutely should work to reforest. But, the rainforest is some of the most important ecosystem on the planet, containing more biodiversity than anywhere else (except maybe coral reefs) and providing globally valuable ecosystem services like carbon sequestration.

Therefore it is extremely high on the priority list. It's also usually more cost effective to avoid destroying something than to restore something.

Don't mention you're expecting downvotes on HN, etcetera.

Is there a potential for this to go wrong? I know deforistation is the problem, but isn't it just as likely that these producers will start producing oils from other sources. Potentially annuals like corn.

The real issue is biodiesel. This is nice, but we should get the oil from wells and not not rainforests. Chopping down rainforests is not the right way to increase Indonesian income or address climate change.

Or use algae biodiesel and duckweed ethanol.

Then sell the presscakes as Soylent Green. Or further process them to make non-soy tofu.

This is great news. Now that environment policy will become a secondary issue for Brazilian Gov, just economic pressure will preserve our forests.

Serious question: should I stop eating Nutella?

Serious answer: yes.

It's terrible for you and contains palm oil. There are better alternatives.

In unrelated news; Mondelez launches a new Indonesian agriculture export subsidiary...

12 from how many?

Ditched companies and products who don't respect the environment a while back... Just preparing for the future where the others won't have the choice anyways :)

Well, I guess since they have the entire Brussels apparatus imposing low-to-none tariffs on raw materials and prohibitively high ones on products competing with theirs[1], they could easily afford to be generous on minor things.

Just read the quote below and imagine how would a food-processing company from a third-world country ever be able to compete? (no way).

1. https://brexitcentral.com/eu-thousands-senseless-tariffs-pun...

"The tariff on orange imports is far from being the least justifiable of the EU’s many thousands of tariffs. Consider coffee. There are a number of different tariff schedules on coffee imports and the general idea underlying them is that raw materials get zero or very low tariffs, but the processed coffee imports that compete with EU coffee processors currently attract tariffs of up to 11.5 percent."

Brexit Central's assertion about coffee is completely untrue. Most coffee producers pay zero tariffs, and it's a matter of logistical difficulties at a local level that stops coffee producing nations exporting roast coffee. Not the EU.

Here's a long thread, with references so you can fact check it, on this exact topic.


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