When doing the initial research for our synthetic alternative to palm oil components, we quickly came across lots of information regarding the current palm oil industry. It soon became apparent that the economies of some countries, for example Indonesia and Malaysia, depend almost entirely upon the current methods of palm oil production. Therefore we compiled a detailed impact analysis report for synthetic palm oil, which can be found by clicking on the button to the right.

Concluding Points
As discussed, the expansion of the palm oil industry has resulted in mass irreversible deforestation activities and this has led to the destruction of the habitats of flora and fauna and even native people in the rainforests. The failures of policies on stopping deforestation and switching from the use of unsustainable palm oil have always been the reasons why we propose introducing a synthetic alternative to palm oil.

Sustainable palm oil is one of the continuous focuses when attempting to minimize the negative outcomes on the ecosystem brought by the palm oil industry. Some big companies have now started to plan to switch to using sustainable palm oil in their products after the revelation of some environmental issues regarding the current unsustainable production of palm oil. However, the disappointing bit is a boycott of unsustainable palm oil is not fully supported by all companies, while in the meantime certified sustainable palm oil could be not sustainable at all due to certain policy loopholes. Billions of dollars have been spent on halting deforestation but this is seemingly in vain because of the financial profit that could be made out of palm oil being far more than we could imagine. Due to the growth of the palm oil business, further deforestation continues and is killing a lot of endangered flora and fauna species. According to the results obtained from the models we built, the Sumatran orangutan population could possibly be saved if we act soon to stop deforestation. Currently, the population of orangutan is at an unhealthy number and is predicted to be even smaller if the forest coverage drops further. Deforestation itself also massively increases worldwide carbon emissions and is contributing greatly to global warming.

Palm oil is important for countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia where a few million people are reliant on the palm oil industry; in other words, the industry has created millions jobs for the community. It currently supports the economies of these countries as palm oil is often sold and exported to other countries for processing. With the increasing popularity of biofuels, the global demand of palm oil is escalating since it is considered to be the most effective food crop among all. So this creates an awkward situation, one where the palm oil industry is so important to millions of people but is destroying the ecosystem at the same time.

Thus, the main concern is that the best way of stopping deforestation while supplying palm oil at the same time would be by replacing naturally-occurring palm oil with a synthetic one, thus protecting the ecosystem. However, without the palm oil industry, economies in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia would be affected. It is suggested that there are others sectors that could replace the palm oil industry but the efficiencies and payback periods are expected to be worse than those of the palm oil industry, and each alternative themselves would create environmental problems. If countries struggle to maintain their economies, poverty would undoubtedly increase and activities like capturing animals for the pet trade or possibly hunting endangered animals for food may become more prevalent as a means to make money.

The patenting of our project could be one of the best way to minimise the negative consequences of our project’s implementation. We propose that Malaysia and Indonesia could obtain the patent licence enabling them to still produce palm oil but in a synthetic way, government bodies being issued the licence so that the production of synthetic palm oil is as efficient as possible. Recent findings also suggest that the current production of palm oil is not enough to meet global needs, and with demand rising annually this is set to get worse. Therefore, a synthetic alternative to palm oil would be the ideal way to supplement the palm oil cultivated from established oil palm plantations, and together these two methods could stand a chance of meeting the rising global demand of this much sought-after vegetable oil.

Photo © Tony Hisgett