Environment

Palm oil

Environmental costs and the problems behind lobbying

by Kathy Xu

Palm oil is known for its versatile and pervasive use in not just cooking but almost all processed foods. It is one of the cheapest and most efficient vegetable oils available. In recent years, the industry has seen heavier scrutiny and regulation. Palm oil farming has dire consequences for the environment, namely the destruction of Southeast Asian rainforests and depletion of orangutan populations, alongside other keystone species such as elephants, tigers, slow lorises, and other species. This has spurred environmental lobbying against palm oil across the globe.

However, is there more to the problem?

What is palm oil, where does it come from, and why is it in everything?

Palm oil flowchart from plantation to consumer products

The environmental problem
Who are the exporters of palm oil?
In Indonesia and Malaysia
Can palm oil be sustainably sourced?
EU regulations and lobbying: myths and realities
What then for Malaysia and Indonesia?
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at hello@kontinentalist.com
Kathy Xu / Writer

Kathy used to write marine and environmental stories at Kontinentalist. She was history-trained but does other things now instead, like running an ecotourism shark conservation business, The Dorsal Effect. When free, she enjoys being in the ocean, trying to spot some sharks or just home cuddling with her cavvie, Danea.

Credits
Infographic / Joceline Kuswanto
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