Improving consumers' knowledge can help save the environment

Being environmentally friendly is a complex matter, and making the necessary information readily available could help promote environmental awareness among the public and benefit not only the environment but also the people.

We could improve our knowledge with the help of labels, which provide us with immediate information about a product.

They could help to make us aware of sustainable products and resolve the haze issue, for instance.

The clearing of forests to make way for oil palm plantations is a major contributor to the annual haze.

Palm oil that comes from plantations that have been cleared sustainably without the use of fire would have a label indicating that it has Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.

Everyday products - from toothpaste to chocolate - contain palm oil. FairPrice now offers RSPO-certified palm oil. Other companies should also be encouraged to buy in on this certification.

Labels can also help to improve recycling rates, which have been stagnant at around 50 per cent to 60 per cent in the past 10 years.

Not all plastic is recyclable, and plastic that can be recycled is split into seven categories, which are familiar to manufacturers but not consumers.

When items contain a combination of materials, they add to the complexity of recycling.

It is no surprise that consumers are confused. More often than not, recyclable plastics are thrown away or incorrectly recycled.

Programmes such as How2Recycle and Can Recycle? are aimed at clearing up this confusion.

Manufacturers can work with packaging companies to make recycling instructions readily available to consumers.

Efforts to provide information to consumers can, thus, have a great positive impact on the environment.

Wun Chun Hou