Baby Sumatran orangutan

Suzi Eszterhas


Sustainable Palm Oil City: Oxford


SOS has launched a new campaign to turn Oxford into a Sustainable Palm Oil City.

We’re working with businesses and organisations across the city to boost efforts to protect orangutans and their rainforest homes in Sumatra. From restaurants and visitor attractions, to colleges, schools and manufacturers, we’re partnering with Oxford’s food service sector to strip out deforestation from products that contain palm oil. By committing to buy, serve and promote products that contain sustainable palm oil, Oxford businesses can make a big difference.

Transforming the palm oil industry

Palm oil is an ingredient found in up to 50% of processed food products, including chocolate, crisps, bread, stocks and seasonings, ice cream and frying oil. Its production has been linked to massive deforestation in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, where forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations to meet global demand for this cheap and versatile vegetable oil.

SOS has been supporting efforts to transform the palm oil industry for many years, by encouraging the use of sustainable palm oil – in other words, palm oil that is not produced at the expense of endangered species such as orangutans, precious rainforests or the rights of local communities.

Helen Buckland, Director of SOS, explains, “When our friends at Chester Zoo came up with the concept of Sustainable Palm Oil Cities, we thought this sounded like a great way to engage businesses and their customers in taking positive action for wildlife and rainforests. We were delighted to help them kick off the first campaign in Chester in 2017 and cheered them on when they achieved Sustainable Palm Oil City status in March 2019. Now we’re launching the campaign in our hometown, Oxford.”

The food service sector lags behind the retail sector in terms of the transition to sustainable palm oil, so this campaign aims to help accelerate change in a sector where palm oil is a little more hidden. We aim to change the way the hospitality sector buys palm oil, increasing demand for sustainable, deforestation-free palm oil.

We have been really pleased to see there’s already such a high level of awareness and willingness to help amongst the businesses and organisations we’ve spoken to so far about the campaign. We have high hopes that Oxford can join together as a community, committed to sustainable palm oil and delivering real conservation impact.

The campaign will work with the hospitality and food service sector within the city of Oxford and a 10 mile radius. Partners include:

  • Restaurants, cafes, hotels and fast food outlets;
  • Workplaces that offer staff catering services;
  • Schools, colleges and universities, council food outlets, and hospitals;
  • Manufacturers and retailers;
  • Visitor attractions and leisure facilities.

Turning Oxford into a Sustainable Palm Oil City

SOS has announced the first Sustainable Palm Oil City Oxford partners, including The Handlebar Café and Kitchen, The Missing Bean, Savona Foodservice, Prana Yoga Oxford, Connect Catering, and Exeter College.

Helen says “These organisations are trailblazers – they have recognised the power that they have to turn a simple change in their sourcing into a big impact for wildlife, forests and the climate. They have made a commitment to choosing sustainable palm oil, and we hope that many more businesses and organisations across Oxford will join the Sustainable Palm Oil City movement. We have some fantastic toolkits and resources to support partners on their journey to sustainable palm oil, and we’ll be behind you every step of the way!”

Messages about forest loss and its effects on wildlife can be bleak, and we know that people struggle to feel that they can help. We want people in Oxford to take positive action by supporting businesses to switch to sustainable palm oil – together we can create a brighter future for orangutans.

To find out more and get involved in the campaign, as a business or an individual, head over to our campaign page and pledge your support for Oxford to become a Sustainable Palm Oil City.

SOS launches campaign to turn Oxford into a Sustainable Palm Oil City

Zac Mills

An adult sumatran orangutan

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