Going palm oil free
Is it possible to completely avoid palm oil?


Palm oil has another use. Biofuels – used as an alternative to conventional petrols and sold as a “greener” alternative. In particular, palm oil is cultivated to produce biodiesel.

I’ve done a fair amount of research on this in the past for a degree course – nothing high brow but just online research to get a real idea as to whether biofuels are really a greener alternative. In particular, biofuels sourced from palm oil. For the purposes of this blog, the issue doesn’t affect me personally, and I am more interested in the contents of a shopping basket.

But the fact remains, a rainforest of orangutan habitat unsustainably destroyed for biodiesel production is the same tragedy as one destroyed for palm oil production ultimately headed for our supermarket shelves.

Here’s a great article from the weekend’s Times newspaper in the UK


The article may be very clear which side of the argument it falls in its views (and I happen to agree). The three things I take from this are:

– Biodiesel from palm oil is being secretly added to diesel, very little of which has been demonstrated to be from sustainable sources

– In theory, greenhouse gas emissions from burning biofuel are lower than those from fossil fuel because crops absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

– But clearing rainforest to create biofuel plantations releases vast quantities of carbon stored in trees and soil. It takes up to 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up the carbon emitted when rainforest is burnt to plant the crop.

The latter fact obviously holds true if rainforests are cleared whatever the motive. Deforestation is hindering not only the existence of one of our most charismatic and human-like species, but also the future of our planet

One Response to “Biodiesel”

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