Chester has been named the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City.
The news comes after a major campaign to tackle the extinction crisis in South East Asia, and is the result of a long-running initiative led by conservationists at Chester Zoo.
More than 50 organisations in the city have revolutionised their supply chains and committed to sourcing palm oil from entirely sustainable sources.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil used in thousands of household products, from food items to cleaning materials and cosmetics.
Palm oil plantations are causing widespread habitat destruction in South East Asian rainforests, pushing species such as orangutans and tigers to the brink of extinction.
But now, under the guidance of conservation experts from Chester Zoo, an unprecedented collaboration of businesses, restaurants, schools and manufacturers from across the city of Chester seeks to help tackle the crisis.
The organisations involved have removed unsustainable products from their supply chains, switching to sustainable alternatives.
They have made time-bound pledges to use only 100% sustainable palm oil products.
A step in the right direction
Conservationists believe Chester’s achievement – becoming the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City – is a significant step towards preventing further rainforest destruction.
Cat Barton, field programmes manager at Chester Zoo, commented: “This is a major moment in the fight to save orangutans and other wildlife from extinction.
“A vast array of species are under threat and on the brink of being lost forever, because oil palm plantations are wiping out rainforests to produce the food and household items.
“By embracing a more sustainable future, we can stop this crisis.”
Cat added: “The fact that more than 50 organisations in one city alone have made changes to the products they use – and committed to a 100% sustainable future – shows that the tide is turning.”
Conservationists caution that if consumers and organisations were to stop using palm oil altogether, an alternative would need to be found to meet the global demand for edible vegetable oils.
Because other oil crops – such as coconuts, soya, olives, sunflowers and maize – are less productive per square kilometre, even more land would therefore need to be converted to agriculture.
Chester Zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities project, led by independent group Sustain.
More cities are now engaging in talks to follow the model, and major large companies are also beginning to get involved.
MP Chris Matheson
Chris Matheson, MP for Chester, said: “I am so pleased to have supported this project since the start.
I know how much work the zoo has put into achieving their ambition of creating the first Sustainable Palm Oil City in the world, and I am really excited about the future of this campaign.
“This is fabulous news for the zoo, fabulous news for Chester and fabulous news for the planet.”
University of Chester
The University of Chester’s support for the campaign has meant that education institutions in the region are also joining forces to support the campaign at all age levels.
Ian White, from University of Chester, said: “The University and Chester Zoo have a long history of working together, and we were more than happy to work with them on such a fantastic, globally-important project, and to have contributed towards becoming the first Sustainable Palm Oil City.
“As a Sustainable Palm Oil City Champion, the university’s hospitality and residential services department has worked closely with our suppliers, to ensure that every product sold across our catering outlets that contains palm oil comes from a sustainable source.”
Chester’s major arts venue Storyhouse has also thrown its support behind the campaign.
Food provision there has been transformed to deliver a 100% sustainable supply chain, from the food in their restaurants to the ice cream in their theatres.
Andrew Bentley, CEO of Storyhouse, explained: “We want to collaborate with Chester Zoo on this vital project, not only as a restaurant, but as a creative centre for the community.
“It’s incredible that the city is leading the way to pioneer such an important campaign. This is absolutely a city-wide team effort and we are proud to be part of it.”
Chester’s Sustainable Palm Oil Champions:
- 49 Watergate Deli
- Chef’s Table
- Chez Jules
- Fish & Chips – Weston Grove
- Cheshire Dining Experience
- Mama Ks
- Flower Cup
- Stile Napoletano
- Coach House Inn
- Peach Sandwiches
- That Beer Place
- Joseph Benjamin
- 80 Watergate Street
- Death by Tacos
- Short + Stout
- Bar Lounge
- Upstairs at the Grill
- Hanky Panky Pancakes
- The Suburbs Olive
- Tree Brasserie
- Bean & Cole
- Hillyer McKeown
- Power Solutions
- Travel Innovation Group
- Sykes Cottages
- Black and Veatch
- Aaron and Partners
- University of Chester
- The Firs School
- Chester Zoo
- Brio Leisure
- Chester Cathedral
- Crumbs Chester
- Thew Arnott
- Ridiculously Rich by Alana
- Essell Cleaning
- Cheshire Platters
- ExSqueeze Me
- Little Lodge Confectionery
- Just Footprints