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Many eateries in Singapore use unsustainable palm oil, which is a major cause of the haze. What’s more, most eateries are unaware their cooking oil may be causing the haze. Therefore we need to reach out and encourage them to switch to haze-free cooking oil. We found it more efficient talking to eatery owners directly rather than calling or emailing. Many are open to learn about the haze and consider switching to haze-free cooking oil.
Why is palm oil linked to the haze?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil, widely used by eateries, which is mainly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia. A major cause of the haze is the mass clearing of rainforest by burning – in order to make space for palm oil plantations.
To stop haze, one of the first steps we can take is to switch to haze-free palm oil. Haze-free palm oil is simply palm oil produced by companies that do not engage in practices leading to haze pollution, such as burning. The closest we have to haze-free palm oil is palm oil certified by RSPO, a non-profit organisation.
Why don’t we switch to other types of oil instead, like canola oil?
Switching to other types of oil crops may lead to more impact on the environment. This is because other crops require more land to produce the same amount of oil.
How does sharing the #GoHazeFree message help?
We aim to channel the public’s interest into on-the-ground efforts for change, such as outreach to eateries right here in Singapore.
A 2016 survey by PM Haze found that more than 90% of popular restaurant chains in Singapore use palm oil and none are haze-free. Switching to haze-free palm oil is not expensive. For eateries, cooking oil makes up a very small percentage of operational costs; RSPO-certified cooking oil costs about 10% more. There are local companies that supply RSPO-certified cooking oil.
How do I convince eatery owners to switch to haze-free cooking oil?
- Ask to speak to the owners: they are the ones who can make decision
- Find out if they are using palm oil for cooking oil: palm oil is commonly known as “vegetable oil”. To be sure, ask for the ingredient name (which is usually palm olein) on the oil tin.
- Share the benefits of using haze-free cooking oil: The haze that we get annually mostly come from palm oil plantations: Most oil palm is grown in Malaysia and Indonesia. To clear land for oil palm, some people clear forests and use fire, causing haze which has made us sick. Some farmers or companies grow oil palm the right way, without using slash-and-burn. There is an international organisation called RSPO that certifies palm oil produced in an eco-friendly way. So the cooking oil will have this label. Would you be interested in switching to cooking oil that does not cause the haze?
- Pass useful information on pricing and suppliers list: You can find the information from the brochure as well.
- Follow up with the owner the next week: find out about their progress and share with us if the restaurant agrees to switch to haze-free cooking oil!
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