A NEW HOPE FOR ORANGUTANS WITH THE NEW YEAR
HOW THE BRITISH RETAIL INDUSTRY IS STARTING TO RECOGNISE THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL
Conservationists have received good news after a hard year of campaigning on behalf of our South East Asian cousin - the orangutan. The supermarket giant ASDA, second only to Tesco, have taken a positive step forward in corporate social and environmental responsibility by signing up to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
The 3rd meeting of the RSPO held in Singapore at the end of November 2005 saw the members adopt the Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. In effect this means that there are finally a set of guidelines "…ensuring that production is economically viable, environmentally appropriate and socially beneficial" - see www.sustainable-palmoil.org
Palm oil is present in 1 in 10 supermarket products and demand is rapidly growing in the wake of the transfatty acid scare in the food industry and the growing desire for biofuels.
The Ape Alliance and Friends of the Earth recognized palm oil as the single greatest threat to the future of orangutans in the wild in their September 2005 report The Oil for Ape Scandal.
With all signs indicating that the Sumatran Orangutan could be the first Great Ape to become extinct, it has been British supermarkets that have been the target of environmental campaigns.
The team from Cockroach Productions filmed in Indonesia documenting the palm oil story, where they witnessed first hand the rapid rate of destruction caused by conversion of rainforest for oil palm plantations. On their return filmmakers Evie Wright and Nick Lyon joined the campaign by making an open letter to supermarkets available through their website (www.cockroach.org.uk).
In a pleasing reply to our letter campaign Andy Bond, president of ASDA, wrote "… as a direct result of your letter, we have engaged in discussions with two major organizations - namely Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund. We hope to assist them over the coming months in identifying the source of this issue and encouraging the development and use of sustainable palm oil."
ASDA are now joining the RSPO following in the footsteps of the Co-op and Boots Ltd. who have already signed up. With three major players on the high street leading the way there is good reason to be hopeful that the British retail sector is listening to the demands of its customers, who do not want to be contributing to tropical deforestation and the demise of the orangutan. With continued consumer pressure we can reasonably hope that the other major retailers will follow suit.
Cockroach Productions has broadcast quality motion footage and high impact still photographs illustrating the palm oil story and the plight of the orangutans. We are also available for interview, having recently returned from several months on the ground in Indonesia following the story.
Contact: Nick Lyon or Evie Wright @ Cockroach Productions
Tel: 01823 451 790
Mobile: 07816 755 128