Giving Compass' Take:

• Critics of the palm oil industry argue that as the demand keeps growing, companies need to find an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to cultivate it. 

• How can philanthropists get involved in helping companies sustain environmentally friendly practices? 

• Read about the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. 

Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world, found in everything from chocolate and ice cream to detergent and biodiesel. Walk into a supermarket and you’ll find it in the ingredient list of nearly half of all consumer packaged food items. Globally, it has an estimated turnover of around $40 billion. And the industry is still growing, with demand for palm oil increasing year over year. By 2021, turnover is expected to reach $91 billion.

But as demand increases, so too do concerns about the social and environmental damage caused by the crop. Allegations made against the industry include deforestation, displacement of local communities, pressure on endangered species and exploitation of workers. Companies have repeatedly been called on to address these negative impacts and strengthen their supply chains, but struggle due to a lack of transparency to the source.

Despite these historical challenges, palm oil can be grown sustainably using best practices, and steps are already being taken to make sustainable palm oil the norm for suppliers and purchasers alike. In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was founded with the goal of creating a more sustainable palm oil industry by bringing together growers, NGOs, and financial institutions. The RSPO has developed and implemented global standards for palm oil cultivation; ensuring palm oil is produced sustainably for both the earth and its people.

Read the full article about sustainable palm oil by Dan Strechay and Amy Braun Senter at TriplePundit