Zoos SA

Scanning to save Orangutans and creating a sustainable Palm Oil future

By Richard Evans

To see how to use the Palm Oil Scan App click here

It’s Orangutan Caring Week! Zoos SA app-eals for consumers to vote with their phones and wallets to help Puspa and Kluet’s wild cousins  

Zoos SA is empowering shoppers and making a stand for species like the Sumatran Orangutan. The Palm Oil Scan App, created by WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums), of which Zoos SA is a member, and Cheyenne Mountain, Chester and Auckland Zoos now has Australian and New Zealand products in its database.

The app launch in Australia and New Zealand is during Orangutan Caring Week (12-18 November 2023) and as Zoos SA readies itself for the opening of the Forest Canopy Trail for the orangutans at Adelaide Zoo.

“The WAZA Palm Oil Scan app puts the consumer in the driving seat when it comes to choosing products containing sustainably grown palm oil. With approximately 50% of all products in supermarkets containing palm oil it’s vital we shop smart and with species and their habitats in mind,” says Elaine Bensted, Chief Executive of Zoos South Australia, ZAA president and regional council member of WAZA.

Shoppers can use the app in the supermarket to scan the products that they buy. If the products contain Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) approved certified sustainable palm oil, then great! Consumers can congratulate and encourage those companies. However, if a product uses palm oil that’s unsustainable, then consumers can put their words and wallets to use.

“There are a few key reasons why palm oil that is grown sustainably is the better choice. Firstly, it’s a case of less is more. Oil palms, when farmed sustainably, yields more oil than alternatives. If a farmer planted one hectare of land with oil palms and one hectare with sunflowers, they would produce twice as much oil from the oil palm crops. This would be four to ten times as much when compared to fields of the same size planted with soy and canola. In short, certified sustainable palm oil uses less land and produces more oil.

“Oil palms also needs less environmentally harmful fertilisers and pesticides than other oil-producing plants. Lastly, the palm oil industry is the lifeblood for many communities in which oil palms are grown. This work provides basic income so workers can afford water, food and to educate their children. Boycotting palm oil completely would be devastating to the people who work on farms and smallholdings.

“The majority of palm oil is produced in countries where the species that rely on the rainforest are on the brink of extinction. We’re talking about the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Orangutan, Chimpanzee, Sun Bear and the Binturong to name a few. With the global population set to reach 9.8 billion in less than thirty years, producers will need to generate 60% more food to meet demand. There’s no way these species can cope with more habitat loss.

“Like the majority of other conservation charities, we have long promoted the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO),” continues Elaine. “We accept that it can be a difficult message to take in. The concept of fully ruling something out is far easier to grasp and, there was once the belief that ‘palm oil free’ was the best policy. Thoughts on completely banning palm oil have evolved.

“While there is a long way to go in the journey to help save the rainforest and the species that inhabit it, the app is an effective way to empower the environmentally minded consumer and create change. The more people that download and use the app, the sooner things can change for the better,” she says.

Speaking about the WAZA Palm Oil Scan App, Dr Martín Zordan, WAZA CEO said.

“Since 2017 WAZA has been committed to promoting the use of CSPO. We recognise the role that choosing wisely on this matter has in conserving biodiversity and reducing deforestation across some of the most unique tropical regions of the world. Over the years, we have been working to encourage the use of sustainable palm oil among our members.

“The need to empower consumers and facilitate behaviour change is vital and companies must realise that there is a demand for CSPO products. It is only when consumers are aware and empowered that they can demand more sustainable alternatives and influence change,” finishes Dr Zordan.

The WAZA Palm Oil Scan app is available on Google Play, App Store and the Zoos SA websites and is free to download and use.

Zoos South Australia has worked on collating information along with fellow ZAA member Auckland Zoo and with the help and promotion of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, USA and Chester Zoo in the UK who have already launched in their countries.

The app rates companies as either ‘No Commitment’ to sustainable palm oil, ‘Poor’, ‘Good’, or ‘Excellent’. App users are also able to use a Keyword Search to find products based on key descriptor words and can contact Administrators with any question about a company.

Orangutan Caring Week from 12 – 18 November 2023 serves to drive action to protect orangutans and to protect global diversity. To find out more, click here.

How can you help?

  1. Download the WAZA Palm Oil Scan APP
  1. Support companies working towards 100% RSPO certified sustainable palm oil that is deforestation free.
  1. Don’t see your favourite brand? Urge them to join the RSPO.

About the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
The RSPO is a non-profit organisation that brings together all stakeholders of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social non-governmental organisations, and is the best standard to certify palm oil as sustainable. The RSPO’s evolving Principles & Criteria (P&C) are the guidelines by which the RSPO determines if palm oil is sustainable or not. The P&C include 39 criteria under seven principles that have been approved by the members of the RSPO. They focus on People, Prosperity, and Planet.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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