Representatives of organisations in Makan SG

Alliance formed to help Singaporeans avoid “eating up” our planet

by Tan Yihan

Four local non-profits are joining forces to ensure one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes - eating out - does not come at the expense of our planet and future generations. The joint initiative, “Makan SG”, was introduced on Sunday (June 3) at a public talk held by the four organisations: Centre for a Responsible Future (CRF), People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM Haze), Plastic-Lite Singapore, and Zero Waste SG.

Makan SG encourages eateries to address five key areas: having more plant-based options, sourcing palm-based cooking oil sustainably, conserving energy, minimising the use of disposable plastics, as well as reducing and recycling waste.  

A 2016 study by the World Resources Institute revealed that people in wealthier countries were consuming up to twice as much protein as they needed. It calculated that if the world’s 2 billion high consumers cut their meat and dairy consumption by 40%, it would save an area twice the size of India and the avoided greenhouse emissions would be equivalent to three times the global emissions in 2009.

“Small changes (in the way we eat) can help make big changes in our environment globally”,  noted Aishwarya Maythil, Projects Director at CRF, thereby helping to sustain a healthy and livable environment for current and future generations.

For example, it addresses the problem of plastics, which can last for hundreds of years in our environment. Pek Shibao, Head of Eateries Outreach at Plastic-Lite Singapore, warned of growing evidence that plastics are entering the food chain and into our bodies.

Recently, it was reported that a whale died after eating more than 80 plastic bags.

The goal for Makan SG is thus to build a positive ecosystem where eateries are encouraged to become sustainable, while customers are supportive of eateries making a difference, declared Zhang Wen, Executive Director at PM Haze.  

Eateries, however, face challenges in reducing their impact on the planet. Ryan Lawrence, Business Analyst at Saladstop!, revealed difficulties in identifying suitable suppliers for eco-friendly ingredients, managing disposables used in takeaway and delivery, and also explaining changes to customers and counter staff.

To help eateries along their sustainability journey, Makan SG has therefore developed a guide which will be further refined in collaboration with eateries over the next few months. A list of suppliers and cost-effective tips for being sustainable will be included in the guide.   

Consumers will also be able to identify sustainable eateries through a Sustainable Restaurant Assessment and Ranking system, which will be released in early 2019.

Evelyn Eng-Lim, a participant at the talk, commented that Makan SG is “very useful and positive in making more sustainable the concept of eating.”

The non-profits will also work together to raise awareness amongst the public of personal actions that they can take when eating out to help restaurants go green, such as avoiding straws, using Bring Your Own (BYO) containers and cutlery, and ordering smaller portions.

With support from governing bodies and community groups, informed decisions by consumers, and sufficient planning and long-term commitment from restaurants and eateries, the journey towards sustainability can be made both simpler and more rewarding.

For more information on Makan SG and to request for the guide, you can email Aishwarya <[email protected]> or Zhang Wen <[email protected]>.