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Norway Cuts Palm Oil Use by 64%, Helps Rainforests

Palm oil production

The heavy use of palm oil over the years has put a devastating toll on rainforest and peatlands throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, the two countries responsible for 87% of the world’s production. Fortunately, a campaign led by the Rainforest Foundation Norway has led to dramatic reductions in palm oil use in Scandinavian regions, a change that will hopefully catch on around the globe.

So how in the world did they do this? Last fall, Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) created a campaign with the goal of reducing Norwegian palm oil consumption and providing information about the effects its production has on rainforests.

The campaign targeted every major food producer in Norway. They were asked to provide details about their palm oil use and whether or not it was obtained through sustainable sources. According to Norwegian law, this information is mandatory to submit if it is relevant to environmental concerns.

The results were published in a web-based “palm oil guide” where customers could find out information about palm oil use in products they buy. This info was never available before this, and was often disguised on food labels as vegetable oil or fat.

The response by Norwegian food producers was overwhelming, and it wasn’t long before a significant drop in the use of palm oil was seen. Eight major food producers cut their consumption about 9,600 tons in one year, about two-thirds of the typical 15,000-ton consumption. Yep, you read that correctly – a 64% reduction of palm oil use in Norway in roughly one year, simply by putting the info out there and forcing companies to hold themselves accountable for the foods they’re offering.

It’s amazing to see what a little transparency and education can do for the environment, and the products we consume. Do you think this will catch on anywhere else?

Image CC licensed by oneVillage Initiative: Palm oil production

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