Know Your Palm

#KnowYourPalm is an initiative to make a conscious choice to demand products that contain certified sustainable palm oil. This is an initiative by The Better India in collaboration with the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to encourage consumers, businesses and relevant stakeholders to transition to sustainable palm oil. RSPO is a not-for-profit that unites stakeholders from the 7 key sectors of the palm oil industry: oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

Palm oil is an integral part of our lives but many of us don’t know about it. It's in 50% of everyday use products.

The best alternative to palm oil is sustainable palm oil. To find why, check out the FAQs at the end of this page.

"I support sustainable palm oil because 
I care about protecting tigers, elephants, orangutans and other animals who inhabit 
the rainforests in SouthEast Asia”

Nikita Khaitan
Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

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Though most of us don’t directly use palm oil in our kitchens, did you know that it is a commonly used ingredient in every other product or food item we use, consume or order on a daily basis? From lipstick to soap, ice cream, bread, pizza, cookies and chocolate to instant noodles, shampoo and toothpaste to name just a few - palm oil is in almost everything! 

50% of our everyday use products have palm oil

Did You Know?

Palm Oil in Everyday Life

85% of palm oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia
India is the largest importer globally

No deforestation, no use of fire, no destruction of endangered species’ habitats like the Orangutan, Sumatran tiger and Sumatran rhino, no new planting on peat, no exploitation, and supporting the livelihood of those living and working in oil palm plantations.

So What Does Sustainable Palm Oil Actually Mean?

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All your questions on sustainable palm oil answered

Ask your favourite brands if their products contain Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO)

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Generally speaking, the conversion of forests for other land uses, including pulp, oil palm, and soy plantations, pastures, settlements, roads and infrastructure. However the top 3 drivers are:

Cattle farming
Converting forest to pasture for beef cattle, largely in Latin America, is a primary driver that has destroyed 2.71 million hectares of tropical forest each year - an area about the size of the state of Massachusetts - in just four countries.
Soybean farming
Growing global demand for meat-free and dairy-free products has contributed to the doubling of soybean production in the last 20 years.Every year around 480,000 hectares is deforested for soy in major soy-producing countries.
Wood products
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of forest destruction, wood production has been shown to cause around 380,000 hectares of deforestation annually in key countries, though the actual number is likely higher. Read more

Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests across all continents – from Brazil to Indonesia – destroying nature and wildlife, taking away community livelihoods and distorting trade. Illegally harvested wood finds its way into major consumption markets, such as the U.S., and European Union, which further fuels the cycle.

According to the WWF reports, Orangutans, Sumatran Elephant, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhino are on the verge of extinction because of unsustainable oil palm cultivation.

When grown unsustainably, oil palm agriculture can have damaging impacts on the environment but when grown sustainably, palm oil is a product that can have a positive impact on people and the planet.

Conventionally, palm oil plantations are cultivated on existing agriculture land or after clearing forests or peatlands (a form of wetland). Two types of oil can be produced from the fruit of oil palm trees. Crude palm oil is produced by squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil comes from crushing the kernel, or the seed in the middle of the fruit.

Around 85% of the world’s oil palms are grown in Malaysia and Indonesia, which are home to some of the most bio-diverse tropical forests found on earth.

It’s possible to choose products without palm oil, but other oil crops are not as versatile and actually need up to 10x more land to get the same amount of oil, with a few yielding as little as 10% of the yield of oil palms. Instead, you can look for products made from sustainable palm oil or it’s derivatives. Read more

No. Palm oil continues to be produced in Malaysia and Indonesia using sustainable and unsustainable practices. India imports approximately 9 million metric tonnes of palm oil every year and is the world’s largest importer. In fact, a ban on palm oil can cause more damage than good.

A boycott of palm oil means companies buy alternative oils and derivatives that require 4-10 times more land and other resources and that could cause more damage to the environment, including biodiversity loss. Oil palms produce roughly 35% of the world’s vegetable oil on less than 10% of the land allocated to oil crops. More stringent regulations, ethical practices for sustainable production/trade and a shift in norms to bring down the carbon footprint is needed now more than ever.

There are many names, but here are just a few examples:

  • PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
  • PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
  • OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate
  • Palmate
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates

Palm oil is omnipresent and used as an edible or non-edible ingredient in approximately 50% of everyday use products like cooking oil (including blended oils and fats) biscuits, bread, snacks, chocolates, cakes, burgers, pizzas, ice-cream, lipsticks, soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, cosmetics, surfactants, cleaning products, detergents, biodiesel and many more.

Palm oil is extremely versatile and has many different properties and functions. It is resistant to oxidation and gives products a longer shelf life, it is stable at high temperatures which gives fried food a crunchy texture, and it is also colourless and odourless and does not alter the look or smell of food.

Yes. When grown sustainably, a space is created where oil palm agriculture and the environment can co-exist, protect primary and secondary forests, and ensure the habitats of wildlife are not harmed. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established to develop sustainable practices through credible, global certification standards to ensure we no longer need to cut down forests or harm wildlife to grow oil palms.

Until such time as sustainable palm oil becomes ‘the norm’, it’s important for consumers to understand that there are different ways in which palm oil can be produced. Labeling products that contain Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and the use of the RSPO Trademark on products are simple ways for consumers who do not know anything about palm oil, to easily identify ‘good’ palm oil.

Yes, the list of such companies is available at this link

Several multinational businesses have made commitments on sustainable palm oil. These commitments are reflected in their policies and releases as mentioned below, some of these companies are:

Hindustan Unilever is making progress towards a sustainable palm oil supply chain through a clear strategy and implementation plan. Read more
Procter & Gamble has unequivocally committed to zero deforestation in our palm supply chain and are using our innovation strength to drive positive change in the industry. Read more
Ferrero Group reaches the goal of 100% certified segregated RSPO sustainable palm fruit oil and goes beyond. Read more
‘Palm Positive Plan’ aims to deliver 100% deforestation-free palm oil by the end of 2020 and advance respect for human rights across our suppliers’ extended supply chains. Read more
The Body Shop
Source of sustainable palm oil has been independently audited and as such confirmed as not leading to deforestation, endangering the natural habitat of wildlife, or impacting negatively on biodiversity. Read more

RSPO is working with various local organisations, oil palm farmers and mills in Andhra Pradesh, which produces the highest volume of palm oil in India. The goal of this initiative is to educate farmers about best practices for sustainable agriculture, which leads to an increase in yield, income, market engagement, and an overall improvement of livelihood for these rural families and communities.

A global standard for Sustainable Palm Oil Production.

RSPO oil palm grower members have committed to some of the strictest agricultural standards worldwide, with

  • NO Deforestation
  • NO New Planting on Peatlands
  • NO Fire
  • NO Exploitation of Workers

These are just some of the more than 160 principles and seven criteria at the core of RSPO’s certification standards, called the 2018 RSPO’s Principles and Criteria (P&C).

They are reviewed every five years via public consultation, followed by member agreement on a consensus basis for any changes or additions.



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Introducing #KnowYourPalm


"I support sustainable palm oil because I want India to take a lead in stopping deforestation and exploitation in Southeast Asian countries” 

Meghna Chakrabarti
Gurgaon, Haryana

"I support sustainable palm oil because 
I believe responsible consumption is a powerful solution for the climate crisis”. 

Punyasloka Panda
Bhubaneswar, Odisha

“For my future, for a better life, I need forests and clean air, hence I support sustainable palm oil and oil palm farmers. The best alternative is to switch to sustainable palm oil”  

Arshad Qureshi
Ahmedabad, Gujarat