2 retailers pull products from firm linked to causing haze
SINGAPORE — Two major retailers — NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong — are yanking paper products sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) from their shelves, as the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) continued to apply pressure on businesses over links to firms that could be partly responsible for causing the haze.
The SEC and CASE said in a joint statement today (Oct 7) that it has sent forms to seven retailers — including FairPrice, IKEA, Watson’s and Dairy Farm International Holdings — asking them to declare that they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia. It has also temporarily restricted the use of its Singapore Green Label certification for products made by the accused companies until investigations are over.
The five Indonesian firms that have been served preventive measures notices to deploy fire-fighting measures under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act are PT Rimba Hutani Mas, PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa, PT Wachyuni Mandira and PT Bumi Mekar Hijau. APP has not been served a notice by the National Environment Agency (NEA), but it was asked to provide further information, which the company acceded to last week.
FairPrice today pulled two of its housebrand products as well as 16 APP-related products, which include brands like Paseo and NICE, from its stores. All the products were certified under the SEC’s Singapore Green Labelling scheme. Sheng Siong, which has been selling NICE and Paseo products, began removing these products from its stores today, and the company will sign the declaration form.
Dairy Farm International Holdings, which operates Cold Storage, Giant Singapore, Market Place by Jasons and Guardian Singapore, said it will stop purchasing products linked to APP for its stores. But products already on the shelves will remain. A spokesperson said Cold Storage had begun phasing out its housebrand paper products — which comes from an APP linked supplier — before the haze started this year, while Giant is now looking into switching suppliers for their house brand paper products.
SEC and CASE also said that of the 17 companies — a mix of manufacturers and distributors — contacted earlier to declare that they procured their materials from sustainable sources, another two have submitted their declaration, up from the 10 announced on Monday.
FairPrice, which was approached earlier to sign the declaration, said it was unable to do so then as it was waiting for APP to confirm their compliance to SEC’s requirements.
Speaking to reporters at Nex’s FairPrice Xtra, NTUC FairPrice chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng said the products from suppliers will be returned while stocks of their affected house brand products will be stored for the time being, adding the withdrawal will cost the company “millions”.
Unity Pharmacy, also a labour movement co-operative, said it has not purchased any products from APP or the five Indonesian companies, and has signed the declaration. IKEA confirmed that it does not source products from these companies and is not opposed to signing the form, but will need time to go through the details.
Watson’s chief operating officer Dominic Wong said it has begun investigating any business connections with the alleged companies and will provide an update after getting more information.