Supermarts checking if firm is tied to forest fires

Indonesian police and firefighters extinguishing a fire on burning peat land in Kapuas, Central Kalimantan, on Sept 24, 2015.
Indonesian police and firefighters extinguishing a fire on burning peat land in Kapuas, Central Kalimantan, on Sept 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Chains that carry Asia Pulp and Paper's items seeking clarification from suppliers

Supermarket chains here that carry products from Indonesia's largest pulp and paper firm said they are checking with suppliers whether the firm is involved in the haze-causing forest fires in Indonesia.

This comes after the firm, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), was named by Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) last week as one of the possible culprits behind the burning, which has in recent weeks shrouded the region in haze.

APP products sold in stores here include toilet rolls, facial tissue paper, kitchen towels and wet wipes under the brands Nice, Jolly, Paseo and Livi. Its stationery products sold here include Inspira notebooks, Enlivo writing pads, Sinar Spectra photocopy paper and Sinarline receipt books.

 
 

Some consumers have called for a boycott of APP's products. An online petition urging companies to adopt sustainable practices has garnered more than 7,000 signatures.

A FairPrice spokesman said: "We share our customers' concern over this matter and are in contact with our suppliers to seek clarification from them while also awaiting the investigation results from the authorities."

WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS

APP products sold in stores here include toilet rolls, facial tissue paper, kitchen towels and wet wipes under the brands Nice, Jolly, Paseo and Livi. Its stationery products sold here include Inspira notebooks, Enlivo writing pads, Sinar Spectra photocopy paper and Sinarline receipt books.

Another supermarket chain, Sheng Siong, has planned a meeting with APP's Singapore office "to understand more about this matter".

Online grocer Redmart said it is "very concerned" about the situation in Indonesia. It has created a filter on its site that allows customers to search for paper and tissue products certified as sustainably produced by Forest Stewardship Council, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation promoting responsible forest management.

A week ago, APP was ordered by NEA to supply information on its subsidiaries in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions.

The firm may also lose its green label status - which endorses a product as being environmentally friendly - for its paper products, if it is found to be getting its raw materials from unsustainable sources, the Singapore Environment Council said on Tuesday.

Mr Jeremias Kuay, 24, a fresh graduate, said he will try not to buy products from APP for now.

But a boycott is not a long-term solution, given the range of its products, he said. "The Government needs to intervene and check the source of the products that are brought in. Consumers also have to be taught how to identify sustainable products."

But Mr Francis Divyanathan, 59, who runs his own cleaning business, said he will continue to buy the products unless the Government tells him not to. "If I need the products, I will still buy. I don't worry about who sells it," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'Supermarts checking if firm is tied to forest fires'. Print Edition | Subscribe