They even got Bill Gates involved.
Palm oil is an ingredient in almost 50% of all packaged products we find in supermarkets. From pizza and chips to deodorant and shampoo. The trees that produce palm oil are grown on massive plantations, mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The problem is that companies are clearing out massive swaths of land for palm plantations; land that is covered in rainforest. Clearing this land endangers rare animal species and releases massive amounts of C02; more than 100 times the amount of conventional forest fires.
Over 25% of the rainforests in Indonesia have been replaced with palm oil plantations.
What’s the fix?
The problem is not necessarily with the product. Palm oil is highly versatile, functional, and doesn’t contain any trans fats, like similar products.
The issue is with the unsustainable and destructive production methods.
A New York City startup called C16 Biosciences wants to change the game. They use a fermentation process, similar to brewing beer, to create a palm oil alternative that’s almost chemically identical and functions in the same way.
Bill Gates just donated $20 million to C16 and firmly believes their product represents an exciting path forward towards sustainable palm oil production.
“Our real mission is ending the need for deforestation that’s driven by the palm oil industry,” Shara Ticku, CEO of C16 said. “We believe that it is totally unacceptable to be burning the planet to make a vegetable oil. It just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s totally unacceptable. There has to be a better way. And we want to provide that solution.”
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