Palm oil can be found in around 50 percent of consumer goods, but if you were to ask most people about palm oil, chances are they wouldn’t know what it is – let alone the enormous environmental footprint it carries. This vegetable oil is used in everything from lipstick to snacks because it is highly versatile and most importantly, cheap. But sadly, the high demand for palm oil is driving the destruction of ancient rainforests across Indonesia.
It is estimated that 300 football fields of forest across the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are cleared every hour to make room for palm oil plantations. In 2015, burning rainforests in Indonesia released more greenhouse gas emissions on a daily basis than all the industries that make up the entire U.S. Not to mention, all of the animals that call these forests home have been absolutely devastated by these rates of deforestation.
The orangutan population has been hit particularly hard by palm oil. In the past 10 years, the orangutan population has decreased by 50 percent as the result of habitat loss from forest clearing for palm plantations. But thanks to recent news about Kiverdi, a start-up that is working to make synthetic palm oil using only compressed carbon dioxide (yes, that means it’s deforestation free!), the world’s orangutans have something to smile about!
Disrupt palm oil, not our habitat!
In an interview with Fast Company, Lisa Dyson, cofounder and CEO of Kiverdi likened the process of transforming carbon dioxide into palm oil to making beer as they use microbes to transform waste carbon from industry into the new oil inside bioreactors.
Palm oil might be a cheap commodity but it comes at much too high of a price to the planet, thankfully, companies like Kiverdi are presenting an innovative solution are needed more than ever. Scientists fear that if we don’t make serious efforts to protect orangutans in the wild, these animals could be extinct within our lifetimes. Is that really worth our snacks? We think not.
While the product is still in development it offers the promise of a future where palm oil is made without rainforest destruction and species extinction, something we’re sure all the world’s animals can get behind. Not to mention, using carbon dioxide as a building block for the product is pretty awesome too.
To keep up with the progress of this new product, check out the Kiverdi website.
While we’re waiting for this awesome alternative, we can all make a difference for orangutans and other animals by cutting palm oil out of the equation right now, check out these resources to learn how:
What You Can Do
- Learn how to wean yourself off palm oil.
- Look for palm oil alternatives.
- Support the work of these organizations to help spread the word about palm and make a change: Rainforest Action Network, WWF, Say No to Palm Oil, and more!
Image source: Thomas Burns/International Animal Rescue