Orangutans, Borneo, Palm Oil and that Banned Iceland (Greenpeace) Ad


Originally created for Greenpeace, the Iceland advert “banned” from UK’s TV stations is spreading around the net as it deserves to be.  On visiting the Malayan side of Borneo the anticipation and excitement centred around seeing the variety of wildlife.  Getting closer to the wildlife hot spots of Sepilok, Kinabatagan, and Danum Valley it was eerie to see the vastness of the Palm tree plantations everywhere.

Not much wildlife can exist in these plantations,  owners drive any animals out and animals find it hard or simply cannot climb or use the palm trees.  As such wildlife and ecology areas such as Kinabatagan are getting smaller as palm tree plantations and the associated deforestation increases.  For tourists it means that wildlife is easier to spot as you drift down the river because animals are squeezed into a narrower area, but more importantly the ecosystem is suffering and the number of orangutans have halved in 20 years.


Palm oil is used in around 50% of packaged products due to its versatility and cost effectiveness, it is in food, cosmetics, fuel and more.  So it’s time to be more considerate like Iceland who have removed palm oil from all their own brand products.  In the UK, if a product contains palm oil it must be listed in the ingredients but sometimes it is not easy to spot as it may be listed as one of its many derivatives.  Where it may not be possible to avoid palm oil, be conscious of the brands who use sustainable palm oil and those who do not so that wildlife such as Orangutans can continue to live peacefully.

Perhaps the easiest way for now is to recognise which brands are doing their best to use sustainable palm only, and which are not:

  • WWF produces a palm oil scorecard telling consumers which brands are taking positive action and using sustainable palm oil.
  • Act for Wildlife has created a shopping list showing which brands use 100% sustainable palm oil.

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