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UK care homes urged to reduce use of palm oil and plastic

10 December 2018

The 5 Nations Care Forum is calling on care providers to support their campaign to cut down on the use of single-use plastic and products containing unsustainable palm oil.

The issue of palm oil hit the headlines recently due to Iceland’s advert which was banned for being too political. The food retailer used a Greenpeace animation featuring an orangutan showing how palm oil growers are destroying its rainforest habitat.

Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, and it is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket, according to the WWF. These products include pizza dough, chocolate, ice cream, packaged bread, margarine, cookies lipstick, shampoo and detergent. Tropical rainforests are being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, destroying the habitats of endangered species such as orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos.

Now the 5 Nations Care Forum, an alliance of the professional care organisations in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and of which NCF is a part of, is calling on care providers to take action.

Mario Kreft, chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “Plastic pollution is a problem we can no longer ignore. It is poisoning and injuring marine life and disrupting human hormones. It is littering our beaches and landscapes as well as clogging our waste streams and landfills. In short, it is now threatening the survival of our planet.

“The Five Nations Group is calling on social care providers to join the battle to combat the increasing menace posed by single use-plastic.

“The social care sector exists to serve the public good. It is an integral part of the rich and vibrant tapestry of our communities. It represents all that is decent about humanity. As the leaders of this vital sector we have the opportunity to demonstrate in a very practical sense that we also care about our planet.”

Care homes procure a huge amount of products and resources and the Five Nations Care Forum believes that if they change the way in which they do this they can have a positive impact on the environment.

“Many of these things are not difficult to do. Small changes can have a big impact. It’s a tiny investment of time and effort when you consider what is at stake. We can also reduce the amount of plastic and particularly single use plastic that we use and step up our recycling efforts. We can significantly cut our use of fossil fuel by being more energy efficient,” added Mr Kreft.

In terms of palm oil, he said: “We’re not advocating that people do not avoid using palm oil entirely, as this would only increase demand for other oils which can be even more damaging impact to the environment. Instead we are campaigning to encourage the social care sector to come together to increase demand for sustainable palm oil.

We have a simple choice. We can either ignore the looming dangers, pretend they’re not there, and bury our collective heads deep into the sand. Or we can take action, and do our bit to help literally save the planet.

“If we do not act, soon it will be too late, and the damage will be done. We can make a difference, and we must.”

The campaign which was agreed at a meeting of the Forum in Cardiff hosted by Care Forum Wales has been endorsed by Ken Skates AM, the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Transport.

He said: “I’d like to applaud the sector for the work that it is doing to drive out the unacceptable overuse of plastics as well as considering how they'll be able to drive out the use of palm oil that is unsustainably sourced.”

Pictured:  Mario Kreft, chair of Care Forum Wales, with Subis the orangutan at Chester Zoo

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