SINGAPORE (From news reports) -- Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has received the Singapore Environment Council's (SEC) enhanced Green Label certification, heralding the return of its products to Singapore shelves.
Their paper products were temporarily banned by companies such as supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice in 2015 after the firm and its parent company, Sinar Mas, failed to show it was not linked to forest fires in Indonesia that led to a regional haze that also engulfed Singapore.
Between December 2017 and March 2018, APP suppliers were audited by a team of inspectors from SEC and its appointed auditors - sustainability experts Control Union, to ensure that it complied with these enhanced standards.
This included full disclosure of APP's supply chain and ensuring that all fibre is sourced from plantations, as well as ensuring suppliers are not engaged in burning, and have implemented strict processes for fire and peatland management.
Despite this, international environment group Greenpeace had cut ties with APP in May 2018 after APP was linked to the destruction of forests for pulpwood.
According to SEC, the enhanced green labelling certification for the pulp and paper category was launched in January 2017 in response to the absence of peatland management and fire management in this category.
To earn the label, companies are required to comply with a 25-point audit criteria, that includes a zero-burning policy.
Along with the enhanced criteria, a comprehensive risk management profiling is adopted in assessing companies' practices and standards.
The enhanced green labelling scheme incorporates criteria based on international best practices such as relevant International Organization for Standardization (ISO) environmental management standards, global forestry management standards, fire management standards from Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001 (OHSAS 18001) and peatland management.
"APP has invested heavily in sustainability and fire prevention, to ensure that our entire supply chain is responsibly managed. 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, and APP has upped its game in such efforts, building on the lessons learned from the 2015 haze," said Bernard Tan, country president for Singapore at Sinar Mas.
Mr Tan, formerly from ST Engineering, DBS and a retired army general, was hired in July 2017 to address the haze issue.
APP has invested over US$100 million in an Integrated Fire Management System to combat fire and haze since 2015.
Apart from employing over 2,700 firefighters, APP has also initiated the Integrated Forestry and Farming System, a programme to improve the local community's welfare and educate them on modern farming techniques and of the dangers of land clearance by burning, reaching up to 191 villagers to date and benefiting 13,800 households.
These investments have seen a marked reduction in forest fires on APP and APP supplier concessions since 2015, said the company.