Asia Pulp & Paper, once linked to haze, set to return to shelves after getting green certification

Asia Pulp and Paper's OKI mill in Palembang. The firm owned by Indonesia's Sinar Mas has been awarded a green certification that may see its products return to shelves in Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) has awarded Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a company linked to previous bouts of haze in the region, a green certification that may see its products return to shelves here.

The enhanced Singapore green label scheme certification endorses products made in an environmentally responsible manner, using 25 audit criteria that includes a zero-burning policy.

In a statement on Wednesday (May 29), the firm owned by Indonesia's Sinar Mas said the certificate is "a testament to the company's intensified commitment to battle the threat of fire and haze since the 2015 haze that affected Singapore, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia".

APP said that between December 2017 and March last year, its suppliers were audited by a team of SEC inspectors, and auditors and sustainability experts appointed by the council.

This involved full disclosure of APP's supply chain and ensuring that all wood pulp used to make its products were sourced from plantations, as well as ensuring that suppliers were not engaged in burning, and had implemented strict processes for fire and peatland management.

Mr Bernard Tan, Singapore country president at Sinar Mas, said that APP had invested heavily in sustainability and fire prevention.

"With climate change causing dry seasons to become hotter and longer, fire and haze remain a real threat and requires a multi-stakeholder cooperative effort to overcome," he said.

APP was one of the firms slammed for the record-breaking haze in the region in 2015.

In September that year, the National Environment Agency listed APP as one of the firms it was investigating under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act for links to regional forest fires that led to the haze.

Major supermarket chains here withdrew all APP products, including its popular Paseo brand of toilet rolls.

Following the crisis, APP beefed up its fire suppression strategies, and reaffirmed its commitment to the zero-deforestation pledge it made in 2013.

Last May, environmental group Greenpeace cut ties with APP after five years over allegations that the firm was still linked to the destruction of forests for pulpwood.

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