U.S. Consumers Urged to Take Immediate Action to Save Orangutans

Consumer group, Palm Oil Consumer Action (POCA) is urging US consumers to take immediate action to save critically endangered orangutans, the only Asian great ape.

Seattle, WA — (SBWIRE) — 04/30/2013 — There are only several thousand Sumatran orangutans left in the wild and their existence is threatened by a pending development plan by the Indonesian government to develop 1.2 million hectares of some of the most environmentally sensitive forest in the world. This threatens the very existence of the last few remaining Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos, and elephants.

Palm Oil Consumer Action is urging US consumers to speak up for the orangutans with their buying decisions. According to LeAnn Fox, a spokesperson for POCA, United States consumers can influence decisions made in Indonesia simply by either boycotting products that use palm oil or insist that the brands they buy, use sustainable palm oil

“It is disappointing to see popular brands like Kelloggs, General Mills and Starbucks using tons of palm oil without having a truly sustainable palm oil policy. Looking at the Corporate Social Responsibility policies of these companies, you see great claims of sustainable practices. However, scientific data and reputable environmental groups decry the environmental disaster behind these companies use of palm oil. Groups including the WWF have long said that if nothing is done and quickly, unique species like the orangutans could become extinct in the wild in a a decade or so.

“Sustainable palm oil costs an average of $50 per ton from the US refiners of palm oil we spoke to” said Ms. Fox. “When you break that down into product cost its quite literally pennies per purchase of our favorite products. We are aware that previous experience with eco-friendly products has meant much higher retail prices but in the case of palm oil, its such a small ingredient in most products that $50 per ton additional cost for sustainable palm oil, companies really do not have an excuse to not use sustainable.”

POCA also acknowledges criticism of the ability to verify whether sustainable palm oil as certified by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is truly sustainable. The group organised an event recently so that consumers can communicate directly with the RSPO. Over 1400 comments were received from participants worldwide.

The RSPO is one of the few organizations that may have the ability to use economic forces to stop a full scale assault on orangutans by uncontrolled palm oil development. There are serious flaws in the sustainability supply chain but if you consider the option of unregulated palm oil production the importance of an effective regulatory body is apparent.

POCA has sent the recommendations from their consumer survey to the RSPO to initiate dialogue as to how to improve this flawed system. Key among them was a recommendation to introduce a rating system whereby producers claiming to be produce certified sustainable palm oil must be 100% certified. All other members that are working on becoming certified should be bound by strict timelines to do so but they will not be able to claim that they are producing Certified Sustainable Palm Oil ( CSPO ). A system like this would add greater credibility to RSPO certificates where the biggest criticism has been that members continue to openly violate RSPO rules while claiming to be producing CSPO.

As they continue to push US brands to either use sustainable palm oil or an alternative that does not have such a crushing impact on the environment, POCA encourages all Americans to join them in saving the endangered orangutan and Sumatran tigers by joining them in their campaigns urging US brands to create strong policies on their use of palm oil.

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About endoftheicons

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

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