Major UK Supermarket Chain Iceland Bans Palm Oil to Save Orangutans

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The UK supermarket Iceland has announced it will remove palm oil from all its own brand products by the end of the year due to the belief there is no such thing as "sustainable" palm oil.

So far, Iceland Foods says they've replaced palm oil in 50 percent of their store-brand products that contain it and are tinkering with recipes for the rest.

Palm oil is now found in 50% of all supermarket products, from bread to biscuits and breakfast cereal to soap.

"Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying "no to palm oil"," said Iceland's managing director, Richard Walker.

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However, it was unclear last night whether the conservation charity WWF... It is found in many supermarket products including bread, pastries, cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and margarine.

"Certified sustainable palm oil does not now limit deforestation and it does not now limit the growth of palm oil plantations", he told the BBC. "We don't believe there is such a thing as verifiable "sustainable" palm oil available in the mass market".

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, said Iceland's move was a direct response to the palm oil industry's "failure to clean up its act".

However, thanks to the Western world's insatiable appetite for the stuff, rainforests in Southeast Asia have been destroyed, to make way for more palm oil and wood pulp plantations.

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In some regions, oil palm cultivation has resulted in deforestation, leaving species that lived in virgin forest without a home.

The CEO of RSPO, Darrel Webber, said in a statement to the media: "We fully share Iceland's concerns about the environmental impact of palm oil, but we do not agree with the solutions they are adopting".

The World Wildlife Fund, which helped form the RSPO, says on its website that palm oil "can be produced in a responsible manner that respects the environment and the communities where it is commonly grown".

The not-for-profit association RSPO brings together 3700 producers, traders, manufacturers and NGOs from 91 different countries to develop global standards for sustainable palm oil. Of those who expressed a preference, 88% were against the use of animal-derived products and 48% objected to the use of palm oil-derived additives.

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But there's also another side to that story: as consumers get more and more aware of environmental issues, campaigns are calling for them to boycott companies with a bad environmental record.

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