Business & Policy Environmental Policy 25 Sneaky Names for Palm Oil By Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. our editorial process Melissa Breyer Updated May 03, 2020 CC BY 2.0. Tri Saputro for Center for International Forestry Research/CIFOR/flickr Share Twitter Pinterest Email Business & Policy Corporate Responsibility Environmental Policy Economics Food Issues Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names. For consumers concerned about the catastrophic ill effects of the palm industry, here’s what to look for. Palm oil is the most popularly used vegetable oil in the world. It is remarkably versatile and is used in everything from snack food and shampoo to biofuel. It is so prevalent that it can be found in around half of packaged items in most supermarkets. It comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) which is native to West Africa. It was once used for basic things like food and fiber, but with a yield greater than other vegetable oil crops, and with low labor costs, it has become the go-to oil. While trees were once planted in small-scale, sustainable systems, the high demand has created a need for large-scale plantations. The Ecological Impact of Palm Oil Moses Ceaser for Center for International Forestry Research/CIFOR/flickr/CC BY 2.0 To make room for palm crops, huge areas of tropical forests and other ecosystems where conservation is important are being stripped bare. Critical habitat for orangutans and many endangered species – including rhinos, elephants and tigers – has been destroyed. Forest-dwelling people lose their land, local communities are negatively affected. The catastrophic fires in Indonesia are due to plantation slash-and-burn clearing that has run amok. Global production of palm oil has doubled over the last 10 years and is expected to double again by 2050. While the demand for palm oil may be hard to stem, by supporting sustainably produced palm oil, consumers can play a role in decreasing the destruction brought on by corporate interests. Other Names Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under more names than just “palm oil.” While some of these ingredients listed by WWF – like vegetable oil – aren’t always made from palm oil, they can be: 1. Elaeis guineensis2. Etyl palmitate3. Glyceryl4. Hydrogenated palm glycerides5. Octyl palmitate6. Palm fruit oil7. Palm kernel8. Palm kernel oil9. Palm stearine10. Palmate11. Palmitate12. Palmitic acid13. Palmitoyl oxostearamide14. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-315. Palmityl alcohol16. Palmolein17. Sodium kernelate18. Sodium laureth sulfate19. Sodium lauryl lactylate/sulphate20. Sodium lauryl sulfate21. Sodium palm kernelate22. Stearate23. Stearic acid24. Vegetable fat25. Vegetable oil If you see these ingredients on a label you can call the company and enquire as to whether or not they include palm oil and/or if they source palm oil from sustainable enterprises. © WWFAlso, WWF advises consumers to look for the RSPO label to ensure that certified sustainable palm oil, produced in socially and environmentally responsible ways, was used. Next best, WWF notes, is the Green Palm label which indicates products in support of the transition to certified palm oil and helps growers transition to sustainable crops. The Rainforest Alliance has a certification label as well.