Sustainable Palm Oil
How gamification can assist the RSPO in
compelling consumers to purchase
products containing sustainable palm oil
What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a highly-versatile vegetable oil used in many food and non-food
products. It is produced in tropical countries and is rapidly growing in market
share. Palm oil is the world’s top selling vegetable oil and is used in more than
half of packaged supermarket products today
What is Palm Oil Used For?
Palm oil is used primarily in food products: cooking oil, shortening, margarine,
snack foods, milk fat replacer and cocoa butter substitute.
Palm kernel oil is mostly used in the oleochemical industry for making soap,
detergent, toiletries and cosmetics
What are the Dangers of
Palm Oil Production?
Palm oil is considered a more sustainable
source of vegetable oil than other crops.
However, the rate of growth of palm oil is so
high there is genuine concern regarding its
sustainability. With higher output comes
rapid and ill-managed expansion of
production, which may result in serious
environmental and social consequences
• Loss of natural wildlife habitats
• Illegal fires
• Land conflicts with indigenous people
• Palm oil is the most produced vegetable oil in the world in terms of
production – some 37 million metric tons
• Malaysia and Indonesia have emerged as the leading producers,
accounting for 86% of global production
• Both Malaysia and Indonesia have serious environmental and wildlife
problems stemming from deforestation. Indonesia alone is home to 15
critically endangered species including the Bali Starling, Sumatran
Orangutan and Javan Rhinoceros
• However, the palm oil industry is also a giant economic pillar that has
helped to alleviate rural poverty in these countries
• Other palm oil-producing countries are Nigeria, Thailand, Colombia, Papua
New Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Brazil
What is the RSPO?
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a not-for-profit
association promoting palm oil production practices that help reduce
deforestation, preserve biodiversity, and respect the livelihoods of rural
communities in oil-producing countries.
The RSPO ensures that no new primary forest or other high conservation value
areas are sacrificed for palm oil plantations, that plantations apply accepted
best practices and that the basic rights and living conditions of millions of
plantation workers, smallholders and indigenous people are wholly respected.
The RSPO has designed a voluntary
certification program for palm oil
producers, containing two forms of
certification – one to ensure palm oil is
produced sustainably, and one to ensure
the integrity of trade in sustainable palm
oil throughout the entire supply chain.
Both systems involve third-party
certification bodies. Thanks to such
rigorous certification systems, oil
processors and consumers can be sure
that their products indeed contain or
support sustainable palm oil.
Currently, palm oil certified by the RSPO
accounts for 16% of all palm oil
Many consumers are simply unaware of the environmental hazards that non-
sustainable palm oil production creates. Yet, with 84% of palm oil production
not certified by the RSPO, consumer pressure on the supply chain is the key to
any substantial and lasting change.
But how can the RSPO compel more consumers to purchase those
products that contain RSPO-certified palm oil over those that don’t?
Gamification in relation to the purchase of RSPO-
certified products would be an effective way to
engage consumers and compel them to pay more
attention to the brands and products they are
With the participation of major supermarket chains (who would benefit from
their public commitment to environmental conservation), all receipts from
supermarket purchases in a pre-determined timeframe would contain a mark
next to all products from RSPO-certified brands.
Each receipt would also calculate the amount of money spent on certified
products and convert that into a number of points (for example, $1 spent = 1
At the end of the receipt would be a list of every brand they have purchased
from that is RSPO-certified, and also a points total.
From there, consumers would be directed to the gamified website.
The theme of the gamified site would be environmental and educational,
centering around the production of palm oil in Malaysia and Indonesia. The
game would employ points, levels, badges, leaderboards and rewards to drive
A player’s home screen would show their bio, including how many points they
have earned, their level (including how many points they need to get to the next
level), the badges they have earned and badges they have yet to unlock, and
the public leaderboard. It would also show any quizzes or challenges they can
take, or what their next step in the game should be (earn more points, chat in
the forum, take a challenge etc.)
Their account would also be linked to their social media profiles including
Facebook and Twitter.
Players would use their accrued points to advance their status in the game and
attempt to win the grand prize, while also learning more about sustainable palm
oil and becoming more aware of the brands that have an RSPO certification.
Once signed up, players would enter the number of points they have earned,
as shown on the receipt. This could be done by scanning the receipt with a
smartphone scanning app, or there could be a unique code printed on the
receipt that could be manually entered, that has the data attached to it.
They would continue to enter their earned points every time they made a
purchase and obtained a receipt. Every time a player entered their points, they
would also be presented with a new fact about palm oil, starting with production
and moving on through the supply chain to the consumer.
There would be a public leaderboard, showing those who have amassed the
most points throughout the game (this would be split into regions if the game
was released internationally).
Note: The points can only be earned through supermarket purchases, however
there are other ways to gain status through game play.
There would be a certain number of levels that players would progress through
as they amassed more points.
The levels would be named as follows:
1. Eco Novice
2. Eco Enthusiast
3. Eco Elite
4. Eco Expert
5. Eco Master
6. Eco Warrior
The levels would be increasingly harder to achieve, with the top level requiring
a very high number of points, and probably containing only a small percentage
of the most devoted players.
Badges would be earned in three ways:
1. Earned through amassing certain numbers of game points
2. Special badges earned by completing quizzes and challenges that relate to
the environmental theme. For example, answering correctly in an animal-
themed quiz could earn the player a Wildlife Protector badge.
3. When a player enters their points, the RSPO-certified brands they’ve
purchased would also be entered. Players would be awarded badges for
collecting a certain number of brands. This would help to encourage players to
seek out more RSPO-certified brands than just the ones they are used to.
(A list of certified brands would be readily available to all players on the
website, and there would also be facts given about a new brand each time a
player enters their points, in order to educate the player as much as possible
about choosing certified brands as a priority.)
• All players would be encouraged to share their progress by posting their
badges to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
• The game would also contain internal social aspects, such as being able to
add friends within the game (both existing friends from social media, and
new friends made in the game).
• Players would be regularly prompted to post to social media to ask their
friends to join them and could earn a special badge earned for referring a
certain number of friends.
• It would also contain a discussion forum where all players could go to
discuss environmental issues and the things they’ve learned in the game.
Players would have an avatar with their level status prominently displayed.
They would also be able to display their favorite badges under their name.
• The ongoing reward throughout the game would be status, from earning
points and badges and sharing these on social media, to reaching new
levels and having the level displayed on their avatar, to also having the
opportunity to appear on the public leaderboard.
• At the end of the game play period, there would be a grand prize for the
player who has amassed the most points. The prize could combine access
and stuff – perhaps a trip to a wildlife conservation in Indonesia to see the
endangered Sumatran Orangutan with a behind-the-scenes tour, or a prize
of a similar type that related to the theme and the overall message of the
Of the four player types, the game would target:
• Achievers (amassing points, solving puzzles, answering quizzes, winning a
valuable prize at the end of the game)
• Socializers (both the internal and external social factors of the game as
• Explorers (the journey of discovering the facts about palm oil, also the
satisfaction of the journey being something that is helping the environment
while also being fun)
By gamifying the purchase of everyday goods and using a game to educate
consumers on the environmental impact of palm oil production and which
brands are committed to using only sustainable palm oil, the result would be
that consumers would be more likely to stick with the RSPO-certified brands
they have come to know and not prioritize those with no certification.
The RSPO could then increase its ability to use consumer pressure to get other
brands to undergo its certification process. By doing this they could realize their
mission of implementing global standards for the entire supply chain of
sustainable palm oil.