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Soap Making – The Realities of Sustainable Palm Oil

Rene Whitlock

Posted on February 19 2012

Sustainable Palm Oil.  What does this mean?

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the following goal:

promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders.

So who is involved in the RSPO?  That would be Palm Oil Producers, Traders, Retailers, and Banks.  To me, this is a conflict of interest.  The loopholes are everywhere.

There is a huge difference between RSPO membership and RSPO certification.

Just because you are purchasing your oil from a RSPO member, does not mean you are getting sustainable palm oil.  In order to be sure you are getting certified sustainable palm oil, you should see a certification seal which is traceable to the actual facility.

The RSPO member can still call their palm oil sustainable, since they have purchased this right through their yearly membership.  No matter where the palm oil came from.

To me this feels deceptive and unfair to the consumers who go out of their way to find sustainable products.

This is no different than chemical based products calling themselves green.

Here are some of the loopholes they have been allowed:

New plantations are allowed to remove forest as long as the land is not deemed “high-value  conservation forest.” Each country interprets “high value”for themselves.  This doesn’t mean they need to be Orangutan Friendly or Rain Forest Friendly.  This rule is meaningless and vague.

Palm oil trees planted before 2005 are exempted. On average, the trees need  about seven years to bear fruit, so the “high value conservation forest” requirements do not pertain to the recent palm oil shipments that received RSPO certification.  So basically, every sustainable palm oil shipment, whether certified or not, is just plain old ordinary Palm Oil.

All palm oil firms are allowed to join RSPO and improve their image despite the fact that they were the ones who created this disaster to begin with.  This is like a fresh new start to their tarnished image.  Yet they have done nothing to earn it except pay a few thousand for their membership fees.

The Jakarta-based Center for Orangutan Protection said last year  it found two RSPO member companies clear-cutting forests that were home to orangutans, sun bears, and Borneo gibbons. “It has been six years after RSPO was put into operation but forests are still cleared and orangutans are continually killed,” said Novi Hardianto, the Center’s habitat program coordinator, in a press release. “All criteria on sustainable palm oil and certification process are merely public lies.”


This blog post is based on my opinion only.  Please, if you have something to add, I would love to hear it.  If you have found evidence that these fact I have found are incorrect, please let me know and I will post the truth.

Palm Oil Free soap making is easy,  please let me know if I can help you get started on the road to Palm Free soap making.  It’s good for you, it’s good for the environment and it’s the only way we as soap makers can stop contributing to the damage that is being done.

Sustainable Palm Oil is not the answer.  The industry is too corrupt and it is just another way of messing with us to make us feel like we are making good choices.  It is an environmentally destructive industry and always will be.  If you thought you were making the right decision with sustainable palm oil, it’s okay, it’s not your fault.  The industry is spending an enormous amount of money to get you to believe they are the new good guys.  In reality, they are the same bad guys.

The only way to stop the horrors is to stop using Palm Oil.

Happy Soaping!