Many of us will enjoy a tasty treat with a cup of tea and what could exemplify this more than the iconic Scottish brand of the Tunnocks teacake? However, Tunnocks is one of the latest firms to come under pressure for the use of unsustainable palm oil in their products. An online petition, via the website 38degree.com is currently calling for Tunnocks to stop the use of palm oil in their confectionery production.
Palm Oil, which appears in a significant amounts of food and cosmetic products, and is a feedstock for biofuel — poses many environmental problems. It’s the largest driver of Indonesian deforestation, which destroys habitat and contributes to climate change. The industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations.
Confectionery and other products can be made without palm oil and indeed palm oil itself can be produced in a sustainable manner. As the information provided by mapping for hereshows, there are plenty of alternatives which meet sustainable criteria. See the list
Ethical investment funds are well aware of the various touch points, both environmental and social, that the production and use of palm oil introduces when making ethical investment decisions. Boycotting and avoiding the use of palm oil is relevant consideration. However, we must realise that the reason there is a problem in the first place, is that there are livelihoods to be made and it is not unreasonable to think that with more regulation and control, a sustainable business can be created, to the benefit of developing nations. As well as undertaking research as to the involvement of different companies in the supply chain of palm oil, many of the investment firms also engage actively with the industry to help promote the development of better policies. Here is a video updates from David Osfield of the Alliance trust sustainable futures funds giving an update on some of the background engagement work they carry out in relation to the palm oil industry.