Everyday Enviro with Elise: sweet sustainability - Planet Ark Environmental Foundation

Everyday Enviro with Elise: sweet sustainability

    By Elise Catterall  October 12th, 2020

    This week Elise talks about the actions taken by Australia's biggest chocolate brand to tackle sustainability the sweet way.

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    I love a company that takes a stand for the environment, especially when they make the kind of sacrifice that can be a potential detriment to their bottom line. We've talked about a few of these before (a good example is The Vegan Dairy) and now we are talking about another Australian manufacturer, much beloved by many of us - Darrell Lea. Yes, the Darrell Lea of liquorice and Rocklea Road fame. 

    You may have already read about their big move to remove palm oil from all their products as their ad campaign announcing the move made a bit of a splash for its reference to Cadbury's 2007 ad featuring a drum-playing gorilla. Because of the devastation the palm oil industry has wreaked on (among other things) orangutan habitats, Darrell Lea's ad features that beautiful, vulnerable animal drumming to George Michael's Freedom. Maybe it’s a bit of appropriation, but I think it is clever and perfectly fitting. 

    At a time when most food companies are opting to use sustainable palm oil because it is still affordable yet ticks the boxes of appearing to address the humungous environmental and animal welfare issues of standard palm oil, Darrell Lea have gone a step further and that is to be commended.  The iconic confectioner has now switched to sunflower oil across their entire product range, despite the need for a huge amount of product redevelopment (including the removal of some product lines that sunflower oil just won't work for) and at huge cost to the company.  

    Not surprisingly, there has been push back against the move. RSPO, the agency that certifies palm oil as sustainable, claims that the better option would be to stick to sustainably sourced palm oil as sunflower oil production has its own environmental impacts (it has lower yields, for example). 

    However, with palm oil being the most widely used edible oil in the world and with sustainable palm oil currently making up a small percentage of the palm oil in the market (<20%) anyway, I think Darrell Lea has done the right thing. Sunflower oil may not be perfect, but the move will raise awareness of the issues with palm oil and hopefully lead to changes that mandate that companies only source sustainable palm oil, and that they declare it on their packaging. 

    Darrell Lea has made other big moves in the past for the sake of the environment, ensuring 100% sustainable sourced cocoa for their chocolates and revisiting their manufacturing and packaging to ensure they are 100% renewable by 2025. Their blanket removal of palm oil, while alone can't solve the deforestation/habitat destruction problem - it is only one company, after all - is an important move for the environment, for animals, for the industry and for consumers. 

    For more information about shopping sustainably, check out this infographic from the WWF.

    See you next time! - Elise

    Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

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    Elise Catterall

    Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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