For millions of people worldwide, grabbing a cup of instant noodles on the way out the door is a routine fact of life. But despite its convenience, the slippery snack has a heavy impact on the environment. How? Palm oil.To make noodles “instant,” manufacturers flash-fry them in palm oil to evenly dry the strands—a process that links instant noodles to environmental damage because the production of palm oil is one of the leading drivers of deforestation. As forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations, acres and acres of natural forest and animal habitat are destroyed. In fact, around 90% of the world’s oil palm trees are grown on a few islands in Malaysia and Indonesia, endangering orangutans, rhinos and a wealth of other species that call the islands home.
36%Percentage of palm oil plantation expansion between 2005 and 2010 in Malaysia and Indonesia that occurred at the expense of natural forests.
A better strategyLuckily, projected increases in the global demand for palm oil through 2050 can be met simply by realizing yield potentials for the crop or by using existing degraded lands—estimated to range from 30 million to 183 million acres in Indonesia alone—rather than replacing natural forests.
Label CheckThe next time you purchase a product made using palm oil, look for eco-labels from Green Palm and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Can’t find them? Ask your local retailers to carry products made with sustainable palm oil.
Dirty WorkA palm oil mill generates 2.5 metric tons of wastewater for every metric ton of palm oil it produces. Direct release of this wastewater can pollute fresh water, affecting people, plants and animals downstream.