Corporate alliance aims to deliver ‘haze-free’ products

REGINA MARIE LEE Today Online 27 Jun 16;

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.


Companies form alliance to tackle haze, deforestation
Chan Luo Er, Channel NewsAsia 27 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: Ahead of the haze season, five companies have banded together to encourage more companies to switch to sustainably produced palm oil.

Named the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil, the group said in a panel discussion on Monday (Jun 27) that it hopes their efforts will reduce the slash-and-burn practices used in the production of palm oil, which results in haze pollution.

Certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is palm oil grown on a plantation that does not cause harm to the environment or society. Issued by non-profit organisation Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the certification assures consumers, mostly through labels on products, that the standard of production is sustainable.

The five companies in the alliance, Unilever, Ayam Brand, Danone, IKEA, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, have already been certified or are in the process of doing so.

The alliance is supported by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore, which will be actively recruiting more companies to join them in this effort.

“The Alliance sends a clear signal to consumers about which companies are committed to sustainability and which are not,” said CEO of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore Elaine Tan. “This is a timely opportunity for NGOs and businesses to work together towards transforming the palm oil industry.”

In 2015, Singapore was most affected by one of the worst haze situations in recent years, with prolonged hazy conditions of over a month and a half, and schools closed due to air quality for the first time.

That was also the year WWF Singapore launched the successful 'We Breathe What We Buy' campaign, which reached more than 20 million people globally. The organisation said that it believes that consumer pressure can persuade companies to change their practices and use sustainably produced palm oil.

"Together with its partners and peers in the industry, Unilever is committed to achieving zero deforestation with a long-term goal to source 100 per cent of our palm oil sustainably,” said Unilever Chief Procurement Officer Dhaval Buch. “Companies are encouraged to make a commitment and enable change by being a part of this National Alliance.”

Unilever is one of the largest consumers of palm oil in the world. The organisation consumes close to 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil a year, or 3 per cent of all palm oil produced in the world.

- CNA/ww


Top firms in Singapore join new alliance to meet consumer demand for haze-free products
WWF 27 Jun 16;

Singapore, 27 June 2016 – Today marks the formation of a new Singapore-based alliance between players in the palm oil industry, retailers and manufacturers, to tackle deforestation, haze pollution and ultimately deliver haze­-free products to consumers.

The primary goal of the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil announced today, is to increase the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil by manufacturers and retailers and offer consumers an environmentally-conscious option for the many products which contain palm oil.

The formation of the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil was prompted by the public outcry over 2015’s prolonged haze pollution that caused suffering in communities and natural areas throughout Southeast Asia. Through the “We Breathe What We Buy” campaign, which reached over 20 million people globally, WWF-­Singapore was able to raise awareness of the link between the slash and burn practices used in the production of palm oil and haze pollution, and enlist public support for a switch to sustainable palm oil.

“The alliance sends a clear signal to consumers about which companies are committed to sustainability and which are not”, said Elaine Tan, CEO, WWF­-Singapore. “This is a timely opportunity for NGOs and businesses to work together towards transforming the palm oil industry.”

The founding members of the alliance believe that companies can make an impact in ending transboundary haze in Southeast Asia and are calling for like­-minded organisations to join them. By consciously choosing how their products are produced and marketed, manufacturers and retailers are empowering consumers with knowledge and values to change their purchasing habits and echo this belief.

The current founding members of the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil include consumer goods giant Unilever, established Singapore manufacturer Ayam Brand, food and beverage specialist Danone, home furnishing retailer IKEA and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Dhaval Buch, Chief Procurement officer for Unilever says, “Together with its partners and peers in the industry, Unilever is committed to achieving zero deforestation with a long-­term goal to source 100 per cent of our palm oil sustainably. Unilever is proud to be part of this alliance to advocate the production, trade and usage of sustainable palm oil. Companies are encouraged to make a commitment and enable change by being a part of this national alliance.”

By joining the alliance, companies with a shared commitment can help to make the use of sustainable palm oil a norm.

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