This post was originally published on February 24, 2021 and updated on July 22, 2021.

Knowledgeable conservationists have long advocated for sustainable palm oil as the only way to protect orangutans and other wildlife from extinction. Thanks to an ambitious campaign spearheaded by the Chester Zoo in 2017, Chester England is now the world’s first city to source its palm oil from entirely sustainable sources. 

In an unprecedented collaboration of more than 50 organizations, including schools, restaurants and manufacturers, the city of Chester completely overhauled its supply chains. This was a massive undertaking considering that palm oil is found in thousands of household products, ranging from foods to cosmetics and cleaning materials. 

In addition to its impact on wildlife, the initiative’s success is significant because it is encouraging others to follow Chester’s lead. “We are already seeing the wider impact of the campaign,” commented Chester Zoo Field Programs Manager Cat Barton on the zoo’s website. “More cities are now engaging in talks to follow this model and major large companies nationwide are working with us to make the switch to sustainable palm oil.”

The Chester Zoo is educating its followers about why the use of sustainable palm oil is a better choice for the planet than banning the use of palm oil entirely, writing: “If consumers and organisations were to stop using palm oil, an alternative supply would need to be found for 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 need to be converted to agriculture.” 

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