Palm oil certification makes Chester more sustainable

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By Lei Chen

Chester Zoo launched the sustainable palm oil challenge in October 2017 and joined forces with the University of Chester and other agencies to promote responsible and sustainable palm oil. The University led by example and committed to support the campaign, and to become a Sustainable Palm Oil Champion to make Chester the first Sustainable Palm Oil city in the world.

The University was awarded Sustainable Palm Oil Champion status by Chester Zoo in June 2018. Its catering team examined all products and identified all items containing palm oil. A University of Chester spokesperson said: “We worked with our suppliers to ascertain the source of the palm oil and ensure that, where palm oil is present in our food, it is sourced from sustainable sources.”

Parkgate Road Campus
Parkgate Road Campus

“Twenty-six items were found to contain palm oil, of which six products were switched for alternatives, as they contained unsustainable palm oil. Two products were changed by the suppliers to ensure the sourcing of ingredients.”

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s biggest palm oil producers and a large part of deforestation threatening the numerous species is due to the palm oil industry. The rainforest is a very important habitat for some species, and is home to the largest diversity of species on the earth.

“Palm oil is the most efficient and high yielding of all vegetable oils, and so less land is needed to produce the oil. If we remove palm oil from our supply chains, demand will be pushed elsewhere and cause habitat destruction and biodiversity losses in other areas of the world. All agriculture has an impact and so it’s important to make sure that we push for sustainability for any crop,” said Cat Barton, Field Programmes Manager at Chester Zoo.

Palm Oil fruit of vegetable oil

The University of Chester pays great attention to sustainable development and puts it into its campuses, communities, cultures and curriculum. It has won The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) Sustainable Award for 2019 and was also a finalist in the Green Gowns 2019 awards for the commitment to sustainable palm oil.

Cat Barton said: “The University was one of our key champions and by getting TUCO on board, this will have a national impact. We will continue to work with the University to raise awareness of this issue.”

Chester achieved Sustainable Palm Oil city status in March 2019 becoming the first city with that title in the world and more than 50 organisations in the city have revolutionised their supply chains and committed to sourcing palm oil.

Cat said: “Our work in this area will continue, as currently only 19% of palm oil is grown to RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) standards and we have a lot more work to do.

“We also work with industry in the UK to increase demand for sustainable palm oil, and the Chester City project was part of this work.”

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