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Singapore retailers withdraw APP products in haze fallout

Singapore retailers withdraw APP products in haze fallout, NTUC FairPrice, Asia Pulp & Paper, APP, National Environment Agency
Three local retailers have withdrawn paper products originally from Indonesia from its shelves, as the hazy conditions that have affected Singapore over the past weeks look set to continue into November.

NTUC FairPrice, one of the largest supermarket chains in Singapore, recently withdrew all paper products sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) – including two house brands of tissue paper sourced from APP through Universal Sovereign – a licensed distributor - and 16 other APP related products from various brands including Paseo, NICE and Jolly.

Two other domestic supermarket chains – Sheng Siong Supermarket and Prime Supermarket – have also removed all APP products from its shelves.

Meanwhile, the Dairy Farm group, which operates chains such as Guardian, 7-Eleven, Cold Storage and Giant, has also stopped replenishing APP stock. It will continue to sell existing items till they run out.

Retailers’ actions in response to Green Label restriction
These developments follow non-government organisation Singapore Environment Council (SEC)’s implementation of a temporary restriction on the use of the ‘Singapore Green Label’ certification for APP products.

The Singapore Green Label is a voluntary eco-labelling scheme that works as “a seal of endorsement on its environmentally-friendly claims to prevent the abuse of green-washing”, says SEC; certification has to be renewed every year.

APP was issued the Green Label in 2010 for its paper products. However, in late September this year, soon after the haze in Singapore started, the government’s National Environment Agency (NEA) begun what looks to be a full legal investigation into APP’s possible role in starting the haze-causing fires in Indonesia. (refer to “Singapore govt takes action against Indonesian companies in haze fallout”)

This led SEC to issue the temporary restriction, explained SEC executive director Edwin Seah: "Given the current haze situation and them being one of the companies named by NEA, we took the step to decide that it might be in the consumer's interest for us to put a temporary restriction on the use of the green label."

According to NTUC FairPrice, with the temporary restriction in place, the retailer’s decision to withdraw APP products from its shelves is a “fair” move.

Seah Kian Peng, NTUC FairPrice’s CEO, said, “FairPrice takes the opportunity to reiterate our firm stance on this matter. We initiated meetings with the various parties concerned when the list of firms, including APP, was named by the authorities as suspects for contributing to the haze. As a fair business partner, we reserved taking action pending further information and investigation by the authorities.

“Our decision to withdraw all APP products is a result of the temporary restriction of their Green Label certification. This reflects our conviction and commitment towards promoting and adopting sustainable practices, as we have done all these years.”

The complete analysis of the potential legislation fallout impacting Indonesian paper businesses in the packaging supply chain is available in the October 2015 issue of Packaging Business Insight Asia,
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