Chester named world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City

Chester has been declared the first Sustainable Palm Oil City, after a long-running campaign led by conservationists at Chester Zoo. Sustain is proud to have helped, sharing insights from our successful Sustainable Fish Cities campaign.

Baby orangutan Siska. Photo reproduced with permission from Chester Zoo

Baby orangutan Siska. Photo reproduced with permission from Chester Zoo

Over 50 restaurants, visitor attractions, businesses, schools, retailers and manufacturers in the city of Chester have pledged to exclude unsustainable palm oil from their food and other products as part of a global bid to prevent the extinction of wildlife such as orangutans.

The declaration of Chester as the first Sustainable Palm Oil City is the result of a long-running campaign by Chester Zoo, which now lays down a blueprint for other cities across the globe.

Conservationists from Chester Zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities campaign run by Sustain. We are delighted to have been able to support this important initiative.

Over 50 businesses and organisations in the city have committed to sourcing palm oil – a vegetable oil used in thousands of household products from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics - from verifiably sustainable sources.

Oil palm plantations are causing widespread habitat destruction in South East Asian rainforests, pushing iconic species such as orangutans and tigers to the edge of extinction.

Cat Barton, Field Programmes Manager at Chester Zoo, said:

“This is a major moment in the fight to save orangutans and other wildlife from extinction. A vast array of species are under threat and on the brink of being lost for ever, because oil palm plantations are wiping out rainforests to produce the food and household items we all consume every day. But it is not too late. By embracing a more sustainable future, we can stop this crisis.

"Thank you to each and every individual or organisation who has taken action to make Chester the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City. Together, we can prevent extinction.”

Chris Matheson, MP for the City of Chester, said:

"I am so pleased to have supported this project since the start. I know how much work the zoo has put into achieving their ambition of creating the first Sustainable Palm Oil City in the world, and I am really excited about the future of this campaign. I look forward to hearing about other cities in the UK and across the world joining the movement that Chester Zoo has started. This is fabulous news for the zoo, fabulous news for Chester and fabulous news for the planet.”

Conservationists from Chester Zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities project, led by Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming. The campaign is backed by the Orangutan Land Trust and the Sumatran Orangutan Society, endorsed by key conservation organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

The initiative has been supported by a host of industry advisors such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as palm oil sustainability consultants Murdoch Associates and Efeca.

Jason Ellison, owner of Chez Jules restaurant, the first business in the city to commit to the Sustainable Palm Oil City scheme, said:

“I visited Malaysia and Borneo in 2008 and I was appalled to see the acrid smoke that lingered over Kuala Lumpur and then realised in Borneo, that it was all from rainforests being burnt and decimated for palm oil plantations. This was my very first experience first-hand of the effects of palm oil.

“The whole team at the zoo have worked tirelessly from our first embryonic meetings until now, achieving the goal of Chester becoming the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City. Long may awareness continue to grow as more restaurants, suppliers and consumers all realise they really can make a difference.”

Edsential, who provide services such as catering to the education sector, have enrolled 138 primary schools and six secondary schools across the region into the scheme, including many schools who have engaged directly with Chester Zoo’s conservation outreach education programmes. Edsential’s action ensures the palm oil sustainability of more than 5.5 million school meals per year.

Ian McGrady, Managing Director of Edsential Community Interest Company, said:

“Chester Zoo inspired us and our schools with their campaign. We are in the privileged position of feeding most of Chester’s primary school children every day and we felt that we could make a real contribution to this project. Our children, parents and schools want to do something practical to help with rainforest conservation; the Sustainable Palm Oil City project has allowed us to support them to do just that.

“The project has inspired us to go much further and we are in the process of becoming fully certified by the RSPO, so the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City will soon have the world’s first certified fully sustainable school catering provider.”

The University of Chester’s support for the campaign means that education institutions in the region are supporting the campaign at all age levels.

Ian White, Domestic Bursar and Executive Director of Hospitality and Residential Services at the University of Chester, said:

“As a Sustainable Palm Oil City Champion, the University’s Hospitality and Residential Services Department has worked closely with our suppliers, to ensure that every product sold across our catering outlets that contains palm oil comes from a sustainable source.”

Chester’s major arts venue Storyhouse is one of the visitor attractions to have thrown its support behind the campaign, transforming its food provision to deliver a 100% sustainable supply chain, from the food in their restaurants to the ice cream in their theatres.

Andrew Bentley, chief executive of Storyhouse, said:

“We want to collaborate with Chester Zoo on this vital project, not only as a restaurant, but as a creative centre for the community. It's incredible that the city is leading the way to pioneer such an important campaign. This is absolutely a city-wide team effort and we are proud to be part of it.”

Chester’s Sustainable Palm Oil Champions are:

  • 49 Watergate Deli
  • Chef’s Table
  • Chez Jules
  • Fish & Chips – Weston Grove
  • Cheshire Dining Experience
  • Meltdown
  • Artichoke
  • Oddfellows
  • Mama Ks
  • Flower Cup
  • Crustum
  • Stile Napoletano
  • Coach House Inn
  • Peach Sandwiches
  • That Beer Place
  • Joseph Benjamin
  • Porta
  • 80 Watergate Street
  • Death by Tacos
  • Roomzzz
  • Pierogi
  • Short + Stout
  • Bar Lounge
  • Hickories
  • Upstairs at the Grill
  • Hanky Panky Pancakes
  • The Suburbs Olive
  • Tree Brasserie
  • Bean & Cole
  • Hillyer McKeown
  • Power Solutions
  • Travel Innovation Group
  • Sykes Cottages
  • Black and Veatch
  • Aaron and Partners
  • University of Chester
  • The Firs School
  • Edsential
  • Chester Zoo
  • Brio Leisure
  • Storyhouse
  • Chester Cathedral
  • 9Brand
  • Crumbs Chester
  • Thew Arnott
  • Ridiculously Rich by Alana
  • Essell Cleaning
  • Cheshire Platters
  • ExSqueeze Me
  • Little Lodge Confectionery
  • Just Footprints

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