Boutique hotel Oddfellows in Chester has become the first in the city to pledge to stop using products which contain palm oil from non-sustainable sources.
The pledge is based on an initiative led by Chester Zoo to make the city an unsustainable palm oil-free zone. So far the hotel has already taken steps to switch away from catering suppliers that use the oil.
Elliot Hill, head chef of Oddfellows Hotels, said: “Making this change was a no-brainer for the team here. We have recently launched our restaurant Cultivated with the ethos of locally produced and ethically sourced produce.
“I’m planning on growing more and more onsite in our secret garden area so that we can cultivate some of our ingredients within the city walls. It is simply a matter of looking into suppliers and making changes wherever we can so that if palm oil is used, we know it is from a sustainable source.”
He added: ‘It makes me feel incredibly proud of my home city that we can be leaders in these sorts of sustainability projects. It’s important that the businesses in the city follow suit to also implement these changes and I would encourage all hospitality businesses to start looking at labels and questioning their sourcing strategies.”
The policy seeks to limit the use of palm oils which trigger the cutting down of rainforest in search of suitable soils. According to Greenpeace, palm oil plantations currently cover an area of 74 million hectares – more than twice the size of Germany – in Indonesia alone.
However it is unclear how effective using sustainable palm oil is for helping to preserve the rainforest. A recent study from Perdue University, Indiana, found that while general production of the oil led to the deforestation of 34.2% of allotted palm growing areas in Indonesia, the rate of tree loss was higher in certified sustainable areas – standing at 38.3%.
Roberto Gatti, the studey’s lead author, told The Independent: “The implication is that there is no reason for companies to claim sustainable palm oil and to use labels for certified products because, in terms of deforestation, there is no significant difference between a certified and a non-certified palm oil plantation. Both need (or needed in the recent past) the complete removal of the original tropical forest.”