Consumers should switch to 'haze-free' palm oil

Much has been done on a government-to-government level to try to combat the haze problem, but progress can be frustratingly slow.

Perhaps it is time for the people of Singapore to step up and launch a new front in the war against haze.

The unsustainable production of palm oil and paper is a major cause of the haze, be it directly through the use of fire to clear land, or indirectly through deforestation and drainage of peatland to create vast fire-prone landscapes.

Yet, palm oil and paper continue to be consumed in Singapore without question of how they are produced.

The irony is that we breathe what we buy.

Palm oil is widely used as a cooking oil and is found in half the products in the supermarket. It is found in our bread, biscuits, curry puffs, char kway teow, soap and shampoo.

Last year, Singapore generated 1.27 million tonnes of paper and cardboard waste, equivalent to about 50,000 sheets of paper per person.

While products that use sustainable paper are widely available, it is much harder to find products using sustainable palm oil.

Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) is palm oil that is verified to be produced without the use of fire and with minimal impact on forests, peatland and local communities.

The difference in cost of certified sustainable palm oil is less than six cents a litre. Yet, hardly any company in Singapore uses such "haze-free" palm oil.

But companies listen to their customers. Consumers have the power to demand that companies switch to using "haze-free" palm oil in their products.

To support such an initiative, a group of non-governmental organisations has launched a campaign called #XtheHaze to gather the voices of consumers and engage companies directly to make the switch.

As companies, such as restaurants, bakeries and food manufacturers, switch to using CSPO, oil palm plantations and smallholders will naturally change their practices to meet this new demand.

Money is a strong motivator. Use it wisely to support haze-free practices. The power to stop haze now lies in the hands of every one of us.

Tan Yi Han


People's Movement to Stop Haze