By Alastair Pattrick, Sustainable Sourcing Officer

Chapter 1 of Future of Food is all about sourcing products and ingredients with care. We’re incredibly proud of the work we do to create Co-op products with respect for people and the planet. Sustainability and caring about the world we share is core to our Future of Food ambition.

We’ve recently partnered with Chester Zoo on a conservation project in Sabah, Borneo as part of this work. The aim is simple – to plant 30,000 trees (5,000 of which Co-op have funded) by the end of the year, to help combat deforestation in former plantations that didn’t source palm oil sustainably.

The trees are being planted on land claimed back from palm oil plantations around the Kinabatangan River, which is home to over a thousand different species. Once the trees have grown, they’ll help local animals (including orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, and Bornean pygmy elephants) thrive with more space to live in.

Our work on sustainable palm oil

Palm oil can be sourced sustainably, but, when it’s grown without sustainability in mind, it can lead to devastating deforestation and harm to wildlife, people and the climate. By working on this project with Chester Zoo, we’re helping to reforest areas of land where palm oil production has happened for over 50 years, allowing it to go back to nature.

All of the palm oil Co-op uses is certified by one of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil  (RSPO) schemes, and has been since 2005.

If you recently watched the Seven Worlds programme with David Attenborough, he mentioned that boycotting palm oil isn’t the right answer. He explained that the amount of land palm oil trees use is relatively small compared to other oils, and the best option is to source it sustainably. The way to ensure this is to buy products from companies that are signed up to the RSPO like Co-op. In the latest WWF palm oil scorecard, Co-op ranked as ‘leading the way’ for our approach to sustainable sourcing with RSPO.

30,000 trees

The trees we’re helping to plant have been carefully selected from around 25 species of neighbouring trees which are fast growing and ideal for wildlife to use as soon as they’ve been planted.

The local community is also getting involved in this project. Ten local women from the Sabah community are planting the new trees. Local schools are also getting involved, learning about reforestation and how to look after the new plants. This provides children with important educational lessons on how to look after the environment, forests and animals they live by.

The 30,000 trees will help thousands of species of animals flourish, and will eventually become wildlife corridors for animals to move more freely across the land, being able to swing from branch to branch.

Win a trip to Chester Zoo

To celebrate our tree partnership, we’re giving away 35 pairs of tickets to Chester Zoo to lucky colleagues. To enter and be in with a chance to win, please fill in this form here. Winners will be picked at random.*

Chester Zoo also offer our colleagues some additional discounts. You can get 15% discount on single day entries, or 15 months for the price of 12 by showing your Colleague Member card at the gate.

*Open to UK residents aged 18+. Internet access required. Entries must be submitted between 00.01 on Tuesday 10 December 2019 and 23.59 on Tuesday 31 December 2019. Promoter is Co-operative Group Limited. Full T&Cs apply – click here.