Renewed call to boycott haze-linked firms in Singapore

Today Online 30 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE — With haze making a reappearance last week, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) have renewed their call to consumers to boycott companies whose land-clearing practices contribute to forest fires.

In a media statement on Tuesday (Aug 30), both groups, expressing disappointment at the return of the haze, said it “represents the growing demand for both paper as well as palm oil products”.

“The boycott last year led to worldwide publicity regarding unsustainable agricultural practices in Indonesia. We believe that the publicity has motivated some of the companies to act more responsibly,” the SEC and CASE said.

They noted that the Indonesian authorities have put in measures to tackle the land and forest fires that are causing the haze. “Compared with the haze last year, these measures are paying off with some results,” they said, adding that businesses should also join the boycott.

Last weekend, a change in wind direction brought brought noxious haze from fires in Sumatra to Singapore, causing air quality to breach unhealthy levels for the first time this year. The situation has improved this week so far, with 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings remaining within the moderate range (51 to 100). As of 5pm on Tuesday, the 24-hour PSI reading was 44 to 56.

In an advisory on Tuesday, the National Environment Agency said the PSI was expected to be in the moderate range on Wednesday. There were showers in parts of Sumatra on Tuesday and four hot spots were detected, with no visible haze, the agency said.

The boycott spearheaded by SEC and CASE began last year when Singapore experienced its worst episode of prolonged haze since 2013, with the PSI entering hazardous territory. It led to supermarket chains dropping products from firms linked to fires causing the haze.

In the statement, CASE president Lim Biow Chuan said in the statement urged consumers not to wait for the haze to return before taking action. “We must work collectively as a group to continue to send a clear signal that such practices are unsustainable and would adversely affect our environment,” he said.

SEC chairman Isabella Loh said consumers should buy paper products bearing the Singapore Green Label certification.

“We must re-emphasise that these plantation owners must take full responsibility in educating their communities and suppliers about the hazards of haze,” she added.

Earlier this year, the SEC also said it was drawing up a new category under the Singapore Green Label certification scheme, which will look at companies’ management of plantations, with an emphasis on peatland management and fire prevention.


CASE, SEC reiterate call to buy sustainable products after haze returns
Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 16;

SINGAPORE: The call for consumers to boycott products made using irresponsible methods of clearing land was made again on Tuesday (Aug 30) by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).

In a joint press release, the organisations said they were "disappointed" that the haze problem has returned this year, and it represents the growing demand for both paper as well as palm oil products.

"The boycott last year led to worldwide publicity regarding unsustainable agricultural practices in Indonesia. We believe that the publicity has motivated some of the companies to act more responsibly," they said.

They also noted that the Indonesian authorities have put in measures to tackle the land and forest fires causing the haze.

To further combat the haze issue, they called on businesses to continue boycotting products that are produced through slash-and-burn methods. "Businesses that have yet to do so, should join this campaign. Consumers can also support this movement by purchasing paper and palm oil products only from sustainable sources," they said in the press release.

Ms Isabella Loh, Chairman of SEC, said that consumers should buy Singapore Green Label paper products.

On Aug 26, the haze returned to Singapore after it was blown in from central Sumatra due to prevailing westerly winds. Readings on the 24-hour Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) crept into the Unhealthy range from 4pm, although the air quality has since improved and is in the Moderate range as at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

- CNA/kk

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