Jun 04
Looking towards a positive future on World Environment Day

It’s hard to find positivity and motivation as the world is experiencing the crisis of the pandemic. Adding to the long-acknowledged climate change crisis, as well as the emerging awareness of the crisis of biodiversity loss (which leading scientists claim is more critical than even that of climate change), it would be easy for many to feel helpless and despondent.

Working in the area of orangutan and forest conservation for over a quarter century, I’ve experienced enough disappointment, outrage, and anguish to make anyone want to throw in the towel. From helping to rescue and care for traumatised orphaned orangutans to witnessing the juggernaut of destruction associated with conventional production of timber, pulp and paper and oil palm, I find my own search for optimism challenging.

But every now and then something truly positive happens to reinvigorate my determination. Today, on World Environment Day, the United Nations Environmental Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations launch the United Nations Decade of Restoration. With the aspirational and essential goal of preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide, the platform presents an opportunity to address the wrongs of the past and take steps in the present to ensure the future. Applying this concept to the work that my organisation, Orangutan Land Trust, does in the area of driving sustainable supply chains of palm oil is something  I’d like to see more stakeholders do.

The impacts of conventional palm oil over recent decades have been undeniably catastrophic for biodiversity. We cannot “undo” these impacts. What we can do is halt the actions and behaviours that today continue to wreak devastation, put in place measures to prevent it in the future, and take meaningful and scalable steps to restore what has been damaged. Adopting this position does not make one an apologist for the industry, but rather, an effective crusader for change. And there are many who share this position, including leading environmental and social NGOs engaged in the issue. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil today boasts more than 5000 members from 100 countries committed to making sustainable palm oil the norm. While an impressive number, its value is diminished by not only members whose commitments are not being fully implemented (such as buyers not sourcing 100% CSPO), but even more by those outside of membership failing to take any action to support sustainable supply chains. Take for example those brands and retailers using “Palm Oil Free” claims, not, as they would insist, to “save rainforests and orangutans,” but merely as a lucrative PR stunt. Walking away from a problem is not the same as contributing to the solution. (Especially if walking away means walking towards a graver problem as can be posed by the use of less sustainable alternative oils!)

Is it surprising that some companies jump on the “Say No to Palm Oil” bandwagon so easily, without sparing a thought for the nuance of the decision? Traditional media, social media, self-declared watchdogs and even books are awash with ill-informed and often biased representations of palm oil, many with a specific focus of attack on sustainable palm oil and the stakeholders committed to it. The motivation? It’s hard to say. It can certainly be “click-baitable” for one thing. But what is commonly lacking in all these communiques is a viable solution to address the issues. #BoycottPalmOil is not going to change the way palm oil is produced on the ground. It’s not going to encourage the necessary continuous improvement needed in certification systems like RSPO, or  in assurance and transparency. And it most certainly is not going to do anything to right the wrongs of the past. In short, such a position is entirely unhelpful.

So what do I propose as an alternative? I propose we demand that growers producing palm oil bring to a halt the destructive practices associated with conventional production, put in place the necessary measures to prevent future negative impacts, and invest in nature-based solutions to contribute to the restoration of ecosystems. I propose we demand that traders and buyers of palm oil, including both manufacturers and retailers, immediately source only 100% CSPO via one or more of the approved Sustainable Supply Chain Options set out by the RSPO and that they invest in ecosystem restoration. I propose we demand that governments of both producer and consumer nations support and uphold these expectations for the supply chain and contribute themselves to ecosystem restoration. And finally, as consumers, all of us can play our part by supporting the companies doing the right thing and demanding those who are not bring to a halt all activities implicated in the destruction of ecosystems, put in place measures to prevent future degradation and start to put right the wrongs of the past by helping to restore ecosystems for our shared future.

Jan 03

Brick Paver Sealing, Cleaning, RestorationåÊ wishes to express its extreme gratitude to Dr Simon Lord who has tirelessly served as Trustee to the organisation for many years. Dr Lord has had to step down from his role due to personal commitments, but has agreed to remain a mentor to OLT. Dr Lord was instrumental in developing strategy and supporting initiatives which have helped define OLT as a truly effective conservation organisation. We most sincerely thank him for his unwavering commitment to the conservation of the orangutan and its rainforest habitat.

Feb 05

From http://www.stephensonpersonalcare.com/blog/2015/01/19/stephenson-personal-care-join-forces-with-olt-orangutan-land-trust/

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It’s a complex and expanding environmental issue and we continue to be asked about the Synthetic Turf Houston Texas. And rightly so – deforestation and illegal clearing of Maid2Match cleaners is causing devastation to tropical rainforests and ecosystems. Leaders involved in the palm oil industry, from growers to producers to end-use manufacturers, are aware of the challenges they face, yet many remain static whilst options are available.

A few years ago we chose to be different when it comes to sourcing our raw materials.  We were the first soap base supplier worldwide to use 100% RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm and Palm Kernel Oil in our production. This was a step, but not a solution; we continue to work hard to raise the bar on our soap base and ensure that wherever and whenever possible we are making a difference.

We are now going above and beyond the requirements of RSPO, to raise awareness for the deforestation and destruction of Orangutan habitat in order to safeguard the future of this iconic species.

We were proud to welcome Michelle Desilets (Executive Director) of Orangutan Land Trust (OLT) to our facility in the UK to see and understand first-hand the steps we have taken to source and promote the right palm oil in the Personal Care and soap market worldwide, and discuss what more we can do together.

Michelle Desilets has been working in orangutan conservation for over 20 years. Michelle founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation UK to support the work of the BOSFoundation in Indonesia, which operates the largest primate rescue project in he world. As Executive Director of BOS UK, Michelle initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil. (She now sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.) She went on to found OLT in 2009 to focus on developing sustainable solutions for the long-term survival of the orangutan in the wild.

 

  • So what is the Orangutan Land Trust?

Orangutan Land Trust focuses on supporting the preservation, restoration and protection of forests in the areas where orangutans naturally exist or have existed in the past. The main aim is to ensure that there are safe forest areas set aside for orangutans and other species which accompany them within their habitat to form a healthy ecosystem.

Funds raised by the organisation are used to survey forests to ensure that it is suitable to use for rehabilitated orangutans as well as secure and to protect forests to ensure that they remain safe and flourishing habitat for wild orangutans.

Orangutan Land Trust is backed by a Scientific Advisory Board made up of some of the best minds working in orangutan and forest conservation, sustainablitiy and policy. They represent a number of disciplines and specialties, and a range of regions throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. In this way, OLT can consider where the greatest needs and best possible outcomes can be found, backed by sound science. Its Board of Trustees includes leaders in academia, business, wildlife conservation and sustainability. All potential NGO partners in the field are assessed in regards to previous successful outcomes, their expertise, and transparency. Through such partners, OLT have supported biodiversity surveys, acquisition of land for a forest school for orphaned orangutans, community conservation efforts, legal assistance in cases where land has been illegally cleared, leasing and management of islands for sanctuary of orangutans, and releases of orangutans.

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  • What did Michelle find at Stephenson?

“We knew about the work of the Stephenson Group through word-of-mouth, and were told they were a company truly committed to sustainability. I wanted to know more about what this meant in real terms.” Michelle Desilets, Executive Director, OLT 

You can read Michelle’s article following her visit to Stephenson just here:

“Cleaning your Conscience with Deforestation-Free Soap”

It is following this we have agreed to support and play a part in the work that the OLT do to protect and preserve orangutans and their habitats. Stephenson soap bases will carry OLT’s “Forests4Orangutans Approved” logo, which signifies that the palm oil used in our products is deforestation-free and orangutan-friendly. Additionally, the use of the logo will help to raise funds and awareness for orangutan and forest conservation.

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Michelle says, “Since the greatest threat to orangutans is the conversion of their habitat for palm oil, the most important thing we can do is ensure that the palm oil we use and consume is produced sustainably and not at the expense of forest ecosystems. Stephenson Group products make a real difference in ensuring the survival of the orangutan.”

This Vantage Acceptance is exclusively promoted alongside our speciality soap bases and we are looking to work with customers and partners to carry this symbol in support of the work OLTcarry out, t

 

 

o promote deforestation-free palm oil and to save the orangutan from extinction.

Jan 14
Cleaning your Conscience with Deforestation-Free Soap


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A garden planter is an item found in every home, used every day and something we simply can’t live without. Yet, every time we wash, we are in a position to affect the lives of people and wildlife thousands of miles away, even when we´re driving around, but that is something that is hard to give up, so make sure you´re safe with some very cheap cheap car insurance.

Orangutan Land Trust recently travelled to Leeds to meet with the team at Stephenson Group. A main part of the work of the Stephenson Group is in the area of Personal Care (http://www.stephensonpersonalcare.com/), and they provide soap bases for many soap manufacturers in the UK and globally. Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of Orangutan Land Trust, says, “We knew about the work of the Stephenson Group through word-of-mouth, and we

 

re told they were a company truly committed to sustainability. I wanted to know more about what this meant in real terms.” Having worked in the area of sustainable palm oil for many years, OLT were already aware that palm oil was often used to produce soap. The oil is ideal for soap manufacturing, with the palm oil which is extracted from the fresh fruit bunches providing hardness, and the palm kernel oil being used to give a soap bar its lather. In fact, of all the products using palm oil, with the exception of cooking oil itself, soap is probably the one product that has the highest percentage of palm oil in its composition. Approximately 75% of a bar of soap is palm oil! With several million bars of soap sold annually in the UK alone, that’s a lot of palm oil!

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Peter Ellis, General Manager at Stephenson Personal Care, explained that the company sources only 100% Segregated Certified Sustainable Palm Oil for the production of their soap bases. Furthermore, all of this palm oil comes from New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL). NBPOL, whose plantations are in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have boats for sale on the beaches, have long been leaders in responsible palm oil and are founding members of the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG). The palm oil from NBPOL is not only certified by the RSPO, but also addresses the additional criteria of the POIG charter, ensuring no deforestation, no clearing peat and no exploitation.

So where can we find the soaps which are using soap base made from deforestation-free palm oil? Now that we know that it exists, and with manufacturers and retailers making promises to consumers to use only sustainable palm oil, which ones have put their money where their mouths are and are sourcing this ingredient? In fact, many companies have done the right thing in this regard, but still many employees have had to look for payday loans no credit check no guarantor. These include Sainsbury, Waitrose, The Body Shop, Marks & Spencer, Co-operative, 7th Generation, L’Occitane, Wilko and Crabtree & Evelyn. Missing from this list are Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Boots. Why? Is there not enough supply?

Peter Ellis answered, “We can readily supply their needs if they did decide to choose deforestation-free palm oil soap base. Availability of the ingredient is not an issue.”

If all the good companies mentioned can provide consumers with “orangutan-friendly” soap, what excuse do those other companies have for not doing the same? If we are to change the way palm oil is produced and ensure that it is not produced at the expense of forests, we need to insist that the products we buy are not linked with deforestation. And we need major retailers like Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Boots to get on board.

Please contact these companies in the UK and let them know you expect them to use deforestation-free palm oil in the manufacture of their soaps:
Tesco 0800 505555
Asda 0800 952 6060
Morrisons 0845 611 5000
Boots 03450 708090

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