What is PM.Haze?
We are People’s Movement to Stop Haze, a group of volunteers from all walks of life who are concerned about the environment of Singapore. Our vision is simple: a world where everyone feels responsible for the clean air we all enjoy. To achieve this goal, we work primarily with the people and amplify their voice to drive NGOs, governments and companies in taking action towards our common goal of ending haze.
How is palm oil contributing to the haze?
The haze is an air pollution problem that has been affecting Singapore as early as 1972. In recent years, haze episodes have become more frequent and severe, primarily because oil palm plantations set fire to drained peatland and forests to clear land, in a process called “slash-and-burn”. This method is considered one of the more effective ways to clear land for palm plantations. The fires are difficult to put out especially in dry seasons, and the winds blow the smog created from this burning over to Singapore, resulting in the haze that we have grown accustomed to.
If palm oil plantations are causing the haze, why don’t we boycott palm oil altogether?
To move fully away from palm oil is unrealistic.
Palm oil is a very efficient crop compared to other types of vegetable oils. It is found in virtually all sorts of beauty and food products in our daily life. Millions of ordinary farmers rely on palm plantations to earn a living.
More importantly, not all palm oil is bad. It is the wrong production method that causes haze and air pollution. Haze-free, sustainable methods of production are out there, and we need to encourage the use of sustainable palm oil over the unsustainable ones.
What is haze-free palm oil?
Haze-free palm oil can be produced by preventing the start and spread of fires. Companies that use zero-burning methods are also considered to produce haze-free palm oil. Further, it is widely accepted that palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is haze-free and therefore sustainable. The RSPO is a non-profit organization that uses a set of criteria to certify palm plantations that are environmentally and socially sustainable. A key RSPO criterion is the prohibition of forest-clearing.
PM.Haze encourages the use of RSPO-certified segregated palm oil, which refers to “sustainable palm oil from different certified sources,…, kept separate from ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain.” We believe that promoting RSPO is the first step towards haze -free, sustainable palm oil. Our goal is to work with the RSPO and interested stakeholders, to increase the awareness and demand for certified sustainable palm oil (RSPO segregated supply chain certificate model).
To learn more about RSPO, visit their official website.
What is RSPO-segregated palm oil?
PM. Haze endorses oil certified under the RSPO segregated supply chain certificate models contain the highest levels of sustainable palm oil. It is the only supply chain model that actively reduces the amount of unsustainable palm oil used. The other two supply chain models (Mass Balance and GreenPalm), whilst they use sustainable palm oil, they do not reduce the volume of unsustainable palm oil in the market.
Why is this campaign targeting restaurant chains?
Palm oil is the number one oil that is used by the major food outlets in Singapore. Depending on the size of the restaurant and the type of food it serves, weekly usage of cooking oil ranges from 2-3 tins (17kg) to 49 tins (17kg)
Restaurant chains and their parent companies can afford converting to sustainable palm oil. Our PM.Haze research found out that there will be a 6%-10% price premium of cooking oil if a restaurant switches to RSPO segregated palm oil. Cooking oil only accounts for a very small percentage of the overall food and ingredient cost of a restaurant. In other words, there will not be a huge financial burden for massive restaurant chains to be the first movers.
Pressuring the restaurant chains is also the most feasible option in Singapore. While environmental-conscious consumers may want to buy groceries and foods that use RSPO-certified palm oil, local supermarkets do not have many options. Plus, Singaporeans frequently eat out. Our consumer behaviors and choices will influence the restaurants’ sourcing decisions.
What should companies do?
Companies can play a big role in reducing the volume of unsustainable palm oil used. They can start by declaring the type of palm oil used in their manufacturing process. They can adopt a time-bound haze-free policy for the entire supply chain. PM. Haze will provide support through a cooking oil procurement guide and a palm oil policy template. Further support can be given from the Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm oil, whose website can be accessed here.
What impact could we have as consumers have?
As consumers and citizens, we wield a much greater power. The campaign will send the local Food & Beverage businesses a strong message. A few of them changing their palm oil sourcing will incentivize their competitors to follow suit. We will aim to have a industry-wide transformation, and the suppliers will change most of their palm oil to RSPO-certified. By then, individual consumers and smaller restaurant owners will have greater access to haze-free, sustainable palm oil too.
Collectively, we can make a difference.
How do I receive progress updates?
To receive detailed campaign updates, you can sign up for our mailing list here. Alternatively, you can also receive updates by liking our Facebook page.