Govt to take the lead in using environment-friendly products

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 13 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Even as Singapore authorities pursue action under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, the government sector will play its part as a consumer — by buying only printing paper products with the Singapore Green Label from the third-quarter of this year. Paper products bearing the label indicate that the supplier practises sustainable forestry management, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday. The public sector buys about 2 million reams, or about 1 billion sheets, of printing paper a year.

The Government will also start buying only electrical products certified to be highly energy efficient, he said. It will start with four electrical items, namely air-conditioners, lamps, television sets and refrigerators.

Asked by Members of Parliament (MPs) for updates on the preventive notices the National Environment Agency (NEA) sent to six companies in Indonesia last year during the haze, Mr Masagos said two have responded and NEA is corresponding with them and verifying the information provided. NEA is also reviewing information from Asia Pulp and Paper Company.

Four other companies did not respond, and NEA served a notice to the foreign director of one of the companies when he was in Singapore, Mr Masagos revealed. The notice requires the director to provide information and attend an interview in relation to ongoing investigations. NEA declined to reveal the director’s identity or his company.

Mr Masagos said he may consider Nominated MP Mahdev Mohan’s suggestion of having out-of-court settlements with companies as an alternative to criminal prosecution, when the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act is reviewed in future.

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia affected the region for a prolonged spell last year, and Mr Masagos said there is no easy solution to the complex issue, but Singapore would continue to promote regional cooperation and support Indonesia’s efforts to tackle the problem. NEO CHAI CHIN

Government to lead fight against climate change, haze: Masagos Zulkifli
This means procuring printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label, and buying electrical products that have been certified with high energy efficiency, says the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
Channel NewsAsia 12 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: The Government will be taking the lead in the fight against transboundary haze and climate change as a consumer, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Apr 12).

"Our consumers and consumers all around the world are rightfully indignant when companies here and abroad blatantly violate their health and well-being with unsustainable practices ... These actions demonstrate the significant power of a collective consumer voice," he said.

Mr Masagos said in his ministry's Committee of Supply debate that the Government will take the lead by procuring only electrical products that have been certified with high energy efficiency. Four electrical items - air conditioners, lamps, televisions and refrigerators - will kickstart the initiative, which will gradually extend to other items, he added.

Additionally, the Government will procure printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label - an indication that the supplier practises sustainable forestry management. This will start from the third quarter of this year, he said.

Singapore Environment Council's head of eco-certification, Kavickumar Muruganathan, said the Government sector is one of the largest purchasers of paper products.

"While we cannot do so much about the forest fires on the ground, we hope that by having a sustainable, green procurement policy, the paper and pulp manufacturers would actually consider manufacturing their paper products in a sustainable manner so that they can retain their market share."

Legislatively, the country is also doing its part in tackling the transboundary haze issue. Mr Masagos pointed to the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) and said the National Environment Agency (NEA) sent Preventive Measures Notices under Section 9 of the Act to six companies based in Indonesia following last year's haze episodes.

Of the six, two have responded and NEA is corresponding with them and verifying the information provided. Among the four that did not reply, NEA recently served Notices under Sections 10 and 11 of the Act on a foreign director when he was in Singapore, the minister said.

"These Notices require him to provide information and attend an interview in relation to the ongoing investigations. In accordance with the law, we will take what steps we can to enforce the THPA, bearing in mind that outside of Singapore, there are limited possibilities," he added.

Mr Masagos stressed that even if the errant company's officers are foreigners, they will have to comply with Singapore's laws, including under the THPA, should they come to Singapore.

- CNA/kk

Greener moves for cleaner air
Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 13 Apr 16;

The Government will buy only printing paper products that carry the Singapore Green Label come September.

Public agencies will also procure only electrical products certified with "high energy efficiency", starting with air-conditioners, refrigerators, televisions and lamps. For example, only air-conditioners rated at least three-ticks will be allowed.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli made this commitment to signal the public sector's efforts to take the lead in encouraging sustainable practices. A Green Label indicates that suppliers practise sustainable forestry management, which helps tackle the root cause of transboundary haze pollution.

Mr Masagos also announced a key measure to tackle local air pollution: All new motorcycles above 200cc will need to comply with the Euro 4 emission standard from Jan 1, 2018. For new motorcycles under or equal to 200cc, the rules apply from Jan 1, 2020.

Motorcycles are significant contributors to carbon monoxide and ozone, Mr Masagos said.

The Euro 4 standard will reduce emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which form ozone, by an estimated 50 per cent in new motorcycles, compared to Euro 3.

A study of the pollution caused by diesel vehicles in Singapore is also being done, to analyse the impact on public health and the environment. The results will be used to review vehicle emission policies.

MPs Faishal Ibrahim (Nee Soon GRC) and Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) asked about ongoing efforts by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to take to task companies responsible for illegal forest fires that caused last year's haze.

Mr Masagos said the NEA has sent Preventive Measures Notices under Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to six Indonesia-based companies, asking them to take immediate steps to mitigate fires and prevent a repeat.

Two - PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and PT Wachyuni Mandira - have responded, and NEA is in touch with them to verify their information.

NEA is also reviewing information from Asia Pulp and Paper on its subsidiaries and steps taken by its Indonesian suppliers to put out fires in their concessions.

A foreign director from one of the four firms that have yet to respond was also recently served with a notice when he was in Singapore, asking him to give information and attend an interview related to the ongoing investigations

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