Palm oil is an ingredient found 50% of packed products, from shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, cookies, peanut butter, lotion, makeup and yes, our dog supplements.
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil made from the fruit of the African oil palm tree, which originates in West Africa. However, it was brought to South-East Asia over 100 years ago as it’s successfully grown in humid tropical climate. Today, over 44 countries produce palm oil but 85% of global supply comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.
This versatile oil is popular as it’s semi-solid at room temperature, resistant to oxidation (giving products a longer shelf life), stable at high temperatures, and it’s odorless and colorless. It’s also an efficient crop that produces high quantities of oil over small areas of land almost all year round.
the problem with palm oil
Unfortunately, palm oil comes at a very high cost for our planet and our species. Palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like orangutans, pygmy elephant, sumatran rhino, and tigers. In addition to contributing to other environmental and social issues such greenhouse gases (which contribute to climate change) and exploitation of workers and child labour.
In Indonesia alone, more than 74 million hectares – an area twice the size of Germany –have been logged, burned or degraded in the last half-century. 55–60% of palm oil expansion in Malaysia and Indonesia occurred at the expense of virgin forests, which were areas of high biodiversity.
Tropical deforestation is estimated to be responsible for about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and palm oil cultivation in Indonesia alone made up an estimated 2–9% of all such emissions from 2000–2010, making it a significant contributor to climate change.
Meanwhile, every year between 1,000 to 5,000 orangutans are killed in palm oil concessions, making it the leading cause of orangutan extinction.
sustainable palm oil challenges
So, the question arises "is sustainable palm oil ok?". 3/4 of palm oil concession are certified to be sustainable by the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world’s largest association for ethical palm oil production. But what are the real sustainable palm oil challenges? A study conducted in 2020 found that most of the currently certified grower supply bases and concessions in Indonesia and Malaysia are located in biodiverse tropical forests and large habitats where mammals were less than 30 years ago.
In addition, RSPO does not prevent the conversion of secondary or degraded forests and allows plantation development on peatland and has not introduced binding requirements to address GHG emissions associated with palm oil production.
RSPO was also accused of covering up abuses of workers’ rights as in 2015, The Wall Street Journal conducted an investigation of concessions granted by the Malaysian government to the Federal Land Development Authority, the biggest palm oil company. It found evidence of foreign workers who had been trafficked from Bangladesh and Myanmar working under human slavery conditions. It also reported, that workers were often not paid or paid below minimum salary; had their passports removed (so they could not leave); were handling toxic chemicals (without safety training or equipment), and were not offered healthcare when ill or in accidents.
we refuse to be part of this
Because of its versatility, most dog supplements and treats use palm oil (listed as one of the inactive ingredients), since it allows dog chews to keep its shape and form in both cold and hot climates. But what’s purpose of killing thousands of orangutans and other animals for our dog’s convenience?
sustainable pet products free of palm oil
At Mokai, we understand that convenience at the cost of our planet, is not convenient at all. That’s why, we refuse to add palm oil to any of our products, no matter how many formulators, scientists, or manufacturing experts recommend it to us. Because no matter how small and insignificant it may be in our product labels, we refuse to take part of this atrocities.
It’s with our consumer dollars that we can save these magnificent species and protect the future of our planet, so be sure to read the little text at the bottom of those popular dog supplements that you find at every retailer.