There has been lots of negative press of late surrounding deforestation, more especially the plight of the orangutan which is on the brink of extinction. Many may have seen the David Attenborough documentary (an example is here) talking about the effects that palm oil sourcing is having on the orangutan population, as well as the forest in general.
What is it and how does it affect our industry?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of oil palm trees (predominantly the West African oil palm). To produce, the fruit is collected from trees, which would usually live an average of around 28-30 years. However, once the trees grow too high and too difficult for the fruit to be reached, they are cut down to make room for new trees – which contributes to deforestation of the rain forest.
To keep up with the incredibly high demand, acres of rain forest are being cut down – leading to a loss of animal habitat for endangered species. In the past 16 years, the quest for the oil has led to the death of an estimated 100,000 orangutans.
However, the trade continues at an alarming rate. According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), palm oil makes up almost 40% of all vegetable oil used globally and almost 70% of the oil traded each year. Palm oil is also used in up to 50 percent of all consumer goods, from lipstick and packaged food to body lotion and bio fuels. It is widely recognised that palm oil is not going away. In fact, production is expected to double by 2050 as demand grows in Asia and other emerging markets.
What is the answer?
Palm oil’s technical utility comes from its high melting point. Since palm oil is semi-solid at room temperature, it has a variety of uses from baking products and spreads to frying. Though animal fats also have this quality, they are far more expensive to produce. It also has very little alternatives.
However the palm oil industry can grow and prosper without sacrificing any more tropical forests or causing conflict with communities. WWF believes that companies that produce palm oil should follow the standard and guidance of the Round-table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Buyers should support them by using RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil.
How does this affect Vectair?
Wherever possible, when manufacturing Vectair products, we substitute the substance for other materials or components. Where we do use the oil, we commit to using only palm oil that is RSPO registered. Our Sanitex® soaps, for example, only contain RSPO registered palm oil.
Not only that, our V-Air® SOLID fragrance dispenser and refills are both not only Carbon certified, but Carbon neutral, meaning we offset any carbon emissions against projects around the world. As a commitment to the environment, two of the projects we have chosen to support with funding have primary aims to reduce deforestation and plant trees – one in the Amazonian rain forest, Brazil, and one in the UK.
As you can appreciate, the fact that our manufacturers only use RSPO registered and sustainable palm oil is a great positive point for Vectair and for the environment. Therefore we are pleased to have produced two pieces of literature that will support this; see here for more information.