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Corporate alliance aims to deliver ‘haze-free’ products

SINGAPORE — In a bid to tackle transboundary haze at its source, several companies, including Unilever and Danone, have joined forces to advocate the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

Corporate alliance aims to deliver ‘haze-free’ products

A palm oil plantation in Indonesia. Photo: AFP

 

SINGAPORE — In a bid to tackle transboundary haze at its source, several companies, including Unilever and Danone, have joined forces to advocate the use of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

The Singapore Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil, launched on Monday (June 27), is hoping other companies will join in to make the use of CSPO the norm, through raising awareness of the link between haze and unsustainable palm oil, and sharing information on how to source sustainably.

For example, IKEA, which already sources CSPO for all home furnishing products such as candles and for in-house food production, wants to get its 40 suppliers in Singapore for food-related products to switch to using CSPO by the end of the year. It will help by absorbing half the cost of the switch, and encouraging suppliers to be more informed, such as by joining the alliance. 

CSPO comes from plantations that minimise the use of slash-and-burn practices, which contribute to regional haze. It is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a non-profit that works with third parties to audit plantations for sustainable oil production, inspecting facilities every year, said chief executive Darrel Webber. The alliance was founded after the public outcry over the prolonged haze pollution last year, by Unilever, Ayam Brand, Danone, IKEA and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, led by the World Wildlife Fund Singapore.

Danone and Ayam Brand use only CSPO. Unilever, which uses about 3 per cent of the world palm oil production, aims to use only physically certified sustainable palm oil by 2019.

According to IKEA, CSPO costs six per cent more than the oil it previously used. Mr Christian Uhlig, head of food at IKEA for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand said suppliers become open to making the change when they learn about the link between the haze and unsustainable palm oil. 

Ayam Brand group marketing director Herve Simon said his firm hopes to encourage companies that may not be major consumers of palm oil to join the alliance. 

The company was at first hesitant to make the shift to CSPO, because it felt it used a negligible amount of palm oil in its production. But it later found out that 90 per cent of palm oil orders are small orders. “Everybody has to do his part,” said Mr Simon.

The alliance hopes to have eight to 10 members by the end of the year.

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