10 firms declare that their paper products are from green sources

SINGAPORE — A group of 10 companies that manufacture paper products that are sold in Singapore have distanced themselves from five Indonesian firms accused by the local authorities of contributing to the latest bout of haze engulfing the region, as the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) urged consumers to ditch support for environmentally irresponsible businesses.

The manufacturers, which include Kimberly-Clark Products, Fuji Xerox Singapore and Canon Singapore, have signed declarations that they do not buy or use wood, paper or pulp materials from these errant players, said the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and CASE, in a joint press release today (Oct 5). The list could grow in the coming weeks, as declaration forms from seven more third-party manufacturers are pending, they added.

The development comes after the National Environment Agency (NEA) said two Fridays ago it has served “preventive measure notices” on four Indonesian firms under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act.

The notice requires firms to extinguish or prevent the spread of any fire on land owned or occupied by them, and discontinue any burning activities, among other things.

A fifth company was also asked to provide information, including measures it has taken to put out fires in their concessions.

At that time, the Government said it will also look into how it can support companies which are recognised by their industry or by international bodies to have instituted sustainable practices.

Today, CASE said it hopes consumers will consider not supporting companies that are not socially responsible.

“This will send a strong signal to the errant companies that consumers’ goodwill should not be taken for granted,” it added.

The SEC and CASE said firms that have signed declarations that they do not use suppliers suspected of contributing to the haze problem are obligated to inform the SEC should they start doing so.

The paper products of all 10 companies that have made the declaration are certified under the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme administered by the SEC.

To be certified, the products must be sustainably sourced and/or have recycled content, while they must also contain minimal or no hazardous substances, said the SEC’s Head (Eco-Certifications)/Lead Environmental Engineer Kavickumar Muruganathan.

“They also need to submit information regarding their management in terms of waste generated during the manufacturing process, water, energy use, and also what happens after the end of the product’s life,” he added.

To ensure compliance, random site audits are conducted on products and companies, said Mr Kavickumar.

Four of the 10 companies who responded to TODAY’s queries said they had no qualms about pledging their commitment to environmentally responsible dealings.

Fuji Xerox Singapore said they work closely with the Forest Stewardship Council, an international NGO promoting responsible management of forests, to ensure their papers come from “responsibly managed forests”.

Sunlight Paper Products, which procures raw materials from China, said the NEA’s identification of the five Indonesian firms suspected to be “the main culprits for causing the annual haze to our people (means there is) less likelihood that our company will procure raw materials from them in future”.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Government has responded to Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s remarks that it would take three years to end forest fires in Indonesia.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources said: “The Indonesian Government has shown commitment in its efforts to put out the fires ... However, more could still be done in combatting the fires as well as law enforcement, as the end of the problem is not within sight yet.”

The ministry added: “Indonesia has also recognised that the problem is best prevented instead of being reacted to ... and the Indonesian Government has gone to some lengths to enforce their laws against illegal land and forest burning. To support this course of action by Indonesia, Singapore has enacted the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to enable it to also take legal action against offenders who cause transboundary haze in Singapore while respecting Indonesia’s sovereignty.”

In a media advisory last night, the NEA said the haze situation may improve slightly today. The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is expected to be in the mid to high sections of the unhealthy range, and may drop gradually to the low end of the unhealthy range if the haze conditions improve, said the NEA.

The air quality deteriorated throughout the day yesterday. At 10pm, the 24-hour PSI was 129 to 162. The three-hour PSI was 161, while the one-hour PM2.5 was 90 to 123.

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