Context1. Introduction 2. The palm oil Business 3. Pollution- CO2 emissions and smog 4. Wildlife and Tribal villages 5.
Uses for the oil 6. Alternatives 7. Conclusion 1. Palmoil originated from west Africa and was gown in the wild as a food crop for as farback as 5000 years. As the industrial revolution hit Brittan and othersurrounding European countries there became more of a demand for industriallubricants which lead to the introduction of the palm tree in the 1870s. This meantthat the small industry of palm oil located in west Africa had to spreadplantations around the world to supply the high demand for Europe.
The tradeexpanded to south east Asia leading to the first commercial planting in Selegor1917. The trade was successful. The Palm oil business reduced the dependence onthe leading Rubber industry in Malaysia. Therefor government saw an opportunityto reduce the number of unemployed and decided to introduce land settlementschemes for planting palm oil; in an attempt to eradicate poverty for landlessfarmers and smallholders.
To account for the demand in quantity of output thatthe palm oil plantations were producing, rapid deforestation started to takeits toll on Malaysia and Indonesia. (http://theoilpalm.org/about/#History_and_Origin15/01/2018)This sparksa debate. How has the movement of the Palm oil industry helped Malaysia and Indonesia,and is it sustainable? Meaning that It can have the ability to continue over aperiod of time by causing little or no damage to the environment, by thinkingahead to the future (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sustainable). For my EPQ I will be answering the question’Is the continued use of palm oil sustainable in Malaysia and Indonesia?’ Formy Essay I would like to analyse this question in a number of differentsections.
Referring to the positives and negatives of this movement of palm oilin terms of sustainability. Firstly, I will look at statistics and graphsof well-known palm oil plantations to see if their output is positively impactingthe Malaysian and Indonesian economy for the future. Furthermore, I will lookat employment rates a pay to see whether it is fair for the workers. Next, Iwill investigate the effects on the air condition (how much CO2 this industryhas realised) and smog due to the burning of trees from the planation. I willalso include primary research. After that I want to look at the effects onwildlife and what has happened to specifically the orangutans by looking at anumber of sanctuary’s.
Alongside that I will research what has happened to the tribalvillages and the members. The next section will be on the uses of the palm oil,how necessary it Is for our day to day lives and how heathy it is. After that Iwill compare palm oil with other alternatives and look and the advantages and disadvantagesof the alternatives regarding sustainability. Finally, I will finish off my EPQessay with a conclusion to evaluate all of my findings and answer my EPQquestion based on my findings and opinion.
One of the biggest concerns when itcomes to palm oil is the consideration of global warming, one of the sideeffects of burning down a mass of trees, is the quantity of CO2 that is emittedinto the atmosphere. This has become more aware to us shown by the rise in temperaturesaround the world. Which is leading to melting of polar ice caps, (shown infigure 1 and 2 bellow) It is said that Palm cultivation is responsible for 2-9% of CO2 emissions(between 2000 and 2010). This is a result of the Indonesian and Malaysian forestsstoring even more carbon per hectare than the Brazilian Amazon thanks to theircarbon-rich soil. In Malaysia, thecarbon stock of tropical forests can range up to 99 million kilograms of carbonper square mile. Which is equivalent to the emissions from driving an averagecar from New York to San Francisco and back 76 times.
These emissions are released during theburning of the forests just before planting a new yield. (http://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/stop-deforestation/drivers-of-deforestation-2016-palm-oil#.Wffr02i0M2w15/01/2018). These figuresare absolutely staggering. Furthermore, we have not considered the food mileson the palm oil which additionally transfers CO2 when transporting to differentcountries. A graph shown below (Figure 3) illustrates where the oil is exportedto in the world in comparison to the population.
From this graph I can see that the highest consumptions of palm oil arein the EU (10,576 km away) (https://www.google.com/search?q=how+far+is+the+uk+from+malaysia=1C1CHBF_enMY760MY761=how+far+is+the+uk+from+malaysia=chrome..69i57j0l2.
9902j0j7=chrome=UTF-8=active=on15/01/2018) and the USA(15,061 km away) (https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enMY760MY761=pcFWWpv7DcLYvgTK3ZSwBg=how+far+is+the+usa+from+malaysia=how+far+is+the+usa+from+malaysia=psy-ab.3..
0.tD2yI_XL1a4=active=on15/01/2018) . With thesheer quantity that these main importers are consuming, there is extremely highfood miles on the oil, that also accounts for the rising CO2 levels fromaircrafts or containerships fuel.
Yet there is a secondary effect that the whole of south east Asia experiencesfirst hand around the September October time of year. Smog is a type of haze intensifiedby smoke or other atmospheric pollutants. (https://www.google.com/search?q=define+smog=1C1CHBF_enMY760MY761=define+smog+=chrome..69i57j0l5.
3961j0j7=chrome=UTF-8=active=on 15/01/2018) This is a result of the mass burningthat takes place for the old palm oil trees to replace with new ones. This smog has increased breathing and heartproblems for many of south east Asia that were unable to get sufficientshelter. I decided to interview in groups around Alice smith school so I couldhear first-hand what their experiences were during the 2015 smog and how it affectedthere day to day life. I decided to use the informal interviewing in smallgroups method of primary research by interviewing 5 groups with 3 people each. Thismethod proved to be best as it was valid and respondents were relaxed and Icould gain a lot of information quickly. I decided to make the interviewees anonymsso that they felt more conferrable to be more open in their responses. I foundout that as a result of the high smog levels the students had about two weeksoff school which disrupted there learning despite the use of video conferenceswith teachers and setting homework. When school was finally open the studentswere not allowed outside (only between lessons) and had to eat food in thehall.
Many peoples breathing was affected meaning that it was essential tobring around an inhaler in case of asthma attacks, the school did provide masksin order to reduce the risks. I can tellthat from these responses from the interviewees that as a result of the smogschool life was disrupted and made difficult. Overall the world’s climate and pollution levels does not look positivelywards the concept of palm oil. Furthermore, in terms of sustainability palm oilhas not helped keep the earth clean of CO2 which has led to secondary problemssuch as smog which effects our day to day lives. Meaning that it is notenvironmentally sustainable. 4. Thefirst problem that usually comes to mind when looking at palm oil, is thewildlife that naturally are located in the thick jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia.
A prime example would be orangutans. It is estimated that there only 50,000-65,000orangutans left in the wild and 2,000 to 3,000orangutangs are killed every yearfrom the movement of palm oil into the jungle! It is predicted that in 50 yearsthe orangutans will be extinct with this rate of reduction. Is this sustainablefor a clearly endangered species? (http://www.orangutan.com/threats-to-orangutans/ 23/01/2018) The lucky few orangutans that becomehomeless fortunately go to an orangutan shelter or sanctuary.
Such as SepilokOrangutan sanctuary in Sabah. (sill continuing this section) (http://www.sabahtourism.com/destination/sepilok-orangutan-rehabilitation-centre 23/01/2018)5.
.6. Besides researching at all of thepositives and negatives of palm oil in terms of sustainability, so far throughthis essay. I also wanted to look at the alternatives for palm oil; to compareand asses why we don’t use them in the majority of our products.
In theprevious section I assessed the attributes that are proven useful from palm oil.Which leads on well to the Alternatives section. Throughout this part of theeasy I want to continuously be asking myself these questions. Is the alternativeproduct more sustainable? And what would happen if this product was to replacepalm oil? An obvious replacement for the oil would be similar alternatives such asRape seed, sunflower and soybean oil. A graph bellow shows the yield comparisonfor each of the oils. According togreen palm the global choice for palm oil is mainly due down to efficacy, anecessity when we consider our growing population. Trees produce ten tonnes ofoil per hector, far more than alternatives.
Thus, making the product cheaper tobuy. The importance of palm oil becomes clearwhen we consider that many people in the developing world rely on it as a cheapand available cooking medium. Animal fats and other oils are not evenconsidered as they are over the budget for many when it comes down to cooking ameal.Manufacturersare also keen on the low price of the palm oil, and the consistency of it. Soybean,sunflower ad rapeseed oil is liquid form at room temperature. Where as palm oilis a solid with a texture that is similar to the overpriced animal fats.
Makingit ideal for cakes and other mass-produced bakery products.Oil Alternativesother than plants or animal fats have been unheard of until recently. Theuniversity of bath discovered that Yeast could replace Palm oil to make a considerablylarge amount of oil. The industry would be in labs meaning that the jungles ofMalaysia and Indonesia will be left untouched.
With a £4million grant from the government toboost its launch, developers are sceptical that to start sales of the new oilwill require businesses willing to look for a more sustainable option. Dr ChrisChuk at the university of Bath stated “Palm oil itself is a pretty volatilemarket, but it retails at anything between $500 to $1,200 (£370–£890) a tonne… We would be looking at that $1,000-a-tonne end, that’s where we’d want to be.”Currently the team in Bath are improving their knowledge on genetics of yeastand plan to scale up the fermentation to an industrial level. However, the realquestion is: would consumers be willing to pay this higher price for a moresustainable option?Furthermore,algae has been looked as a major competitor of palm oil in the United Arab ofEmirates (UAE). The bonus of the algae, is that they can grow in fresh or saltwater, “that means you don’t need to waste freshwater and you can grow it, ifyou want to scale up, in desert areas for instance.
” Says KouroshSalehi-Ashtiani, associate professor of biology at New York University in AbuDhabi. Currently algae are being used in laundry liquids by the company Ecover.Which has received a great deal of backlash on the product. The problem beingthat the algae that was being produced is genetically modified. In the UAEexperiments are proceeding to find an alternative for algae that is not socontroversial, by not genetically modifying it. Theyannounced last month that the New York University in Abu Dhabi had been workingon new species of algae. The findings show that naturally algae produces largequantities of palmitic acid – the fatty acid that is a major component in palmoil. This can potentially be a good substitute for palm oil if the manufacturescan get it down to a price that consumers are willing to pay.
Inconclusion I can tell that palm Oil is going to be a difficult oil to replacewith alternatives. Due to the locational factors such as cheap and available labourand ideal tropical temperatures around 30 degrees making the trees grow fast. Furthermore,the yield from the trees are exceptionally high making the production efficientand difficult to beat in price by competitors. Therefor meaning that palm oilhas the majority of the market share for oils.
From the differentoils I have researched in my opinion feel like algae would be the best competitorfor palm oil in terms of sustainability. By using this method of making oil wewould be using natural resources (salt water) to produce. This would mean thatin Malaysia and Indonesia Deforestation and carbon dioxide levels would bereduced. Also, orangutans and other animals could be rehomed back into thejungle again. However, this already set up industry in Malaysia and Indonesiacould result in millions of job losses and an extreme economic slump if Algaewas to be a raging success. Setting back the development of the countries as awhole. (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/palm-oil-alternative-could-avert-devastation-caused-by-plantations-a6762811.html,https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/sep/29/algae-yeast-quest-to-find-alternative-to-palm-oil 15/01/2018)