Chester has become the first Sustainable Palm Oil City in the world, as a result of a long-running campaign led by conservationists at Chester Zoo.
More than 50 organisations in the city have revolutionised their supply chains and committed to sourcing palm oil – a vegetable oil used in thousands of household products from food items to cleaning materials and cosmetics - from entirely sustainable sources.
Oil palm plantations are causing widespread habitat destruction in South East Asian rainforests, pushing iconic species such as orangutans and tigers to the edge of extinction.
But now, an unprecedented collaboration of businesses, restaurants, schools and manufacturers from across the city of Chester have united to help tackle the crisis.
The organisations involved have removed unsustainable products from their supply chains, switching to sustainable alternatives and have made time-bound pledges to use only 100% sustainable palm oil products.
Conservationists believe Chester’s achievement in becoming the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City is a significant step towards preventing further rainforest destruction in tropical regions.
Cat Barton, Field Programmes Manager at Chester Zoo, said: “This is a major moment in the fight to save orangutans and other wildlife from extinction.
“A vast array of species are under threat and on the brink of being lost forever, because oil palm plantations are wiping out rainforests to produce the food and household items we all consume every day. But it is not too late. By embracing a more sustainable future, we can stop this crisis.
“The fact that more than 50 organisations in one city alone have made changes to the products they use - and committed to a 100% sustainable future - shows that the tide is turning.
“We are already seeing the wider impact of the campaign. More cities are now engaging in talks to follow this model and major large companies nationwide are working with us to make the switch to sustainable palm oil.
“Thank you to each and every individual or organisation who has taken action to make Chester the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City. Together, we can prevent extinction.”
Conservationists have long advocated that fully sustainable palm oil is the only viable solution to the extinction crisis. If consumers and organisations were to stop using palm oil, an alternative supply would need to be found for the global demand for edible vegetable oils. Because other oil crops – such as coconuts, soya, olives, sunflowers and maize – are less productive per square kilometre, even more land would need to be converted to agriculture.
Conservationists from Chester Zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities project, led by independent group Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming. The campaign is backed by the Orangutan Land Trust and the Sumatran Orangutan Society, endorsed by key conservation organisations including BIAZA.
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