Stricter criteria for Singapore Green Labelling Scheme from next year

SIAU MING EN Today Online 16 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE — An enhanced certification and labelling scheme for environmentally friendly pulp and paper products will have more rigorous criteria from next January, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) said yesterday.

Standards will be benchmarked against environmental practices used in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Pulp and paper firms will also be assessed on the way they prevent the outbreak of fires on their plantations, and how their peatlands are managed.

In a press release issued yesterday, an SEC spokesperson said that the revamped scheme would allow consumers to take a stand in support of the environment and against practices that cause the regional haze problem.

More details of the enhanced green label will be announced next month, and firms may sign up for a workshop organised by the SEC to better understand the enhanced criteria.

Companies that are already certified under the existing Singapore Green Labelling Scheme will be given a transition period to strengthen their business practices and comply with the new criteria.

There are now 15 paper firms certified under this scheme administered by the SEC. Some of the accredited firms told TODAY that they are relatively confident of meeting the new criteria because their paper products already meet international certification standards, such as those from the Forest Stewardship Council and the International Organisation for Standardisation.

However, Mr Terry Ang, managing director of Scanpap (Asia-Pacific), pointed out that there could be more costs for the firm when it conducts tests for new paper-mill products to meet the new standards. “(Still), I think the SEC has ... sort of given a signal to not just suppliers but consumers … (that they) should keep sustainability in mind.” SIAU MING EN

'Enhanced' green label to support anti-haze efforts: SEC
Channel NewsAsia 15 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE: A certification and labelling scheme for environmentally friendly pulp and paper products will have more rigorous criteria starting next January, said the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on Thursday (Dec 15).

Standards will be benchmarked against environmental practices used in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Companies will also be assessed on the way they prevent the outbreak of fire on their plantations as well as how their peatlands are managed.

SEC, which administers the Singapore Green Labelling Scheme (SGLS), said the enhanced certification "will empower consumers to take a stand" against manufacturing practices that contribute to the transboundary haze.

The enhanced Green Label was announced in April at the third Sustainable World Resources dialogue. Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli had lauded the initiative, saying that when it is fully developed, "this standard will be the most holistic certification standard for pulp and paper in the world".

Green labels that certify environmentally sustainable products have been in the spotlight due to the haze engulfing the region periodically, and both SEC and the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) have called for consumers to boycott products made by companies which use irresponsible methods of clearing land.

SEC chairman Isabella Loh said the enhanced SGLS will provide consumers with "a more reliable green label" when choosing environmentally sustainable paper products.

Aside from allowing consumers to register their opposition to environmentally unfriendly practices that cause haze, Ms Loh said the enhanced green label will "help profile responsible businesses that are doing the right thing".

CASE's executive director, Seah Seng Choon, said consumers have a "vital role" to play in changing the business practices that contribute to the haze.

"If everyone in Singapore purchased products produced in a sustainable manner, it will send a clear signal to paper companies across the region," he said.

COMPANIES WILL BE GIVEN TIME TO COMPLY WITH NEW CRITERIA: SEC

Ms Loh said SEC encourages all paper product companies to apply for the enhanced labelling scheme.

Companies will be given time to strengthen their business practices to ensure they comply with the certification criteria, according to SEC.

"It's not meant to be difficult for companies to comply, it's meant to make the certifications more robust and complete,” explained SEC's head of eco-certifications, Chong Khai Sin. “As with all other certification schemes, what it has in place is documentation and processes which have to be collated and proven for the certification, so it's not meant to be more difficult, it's just meant to be more auditable.”

Companies will have to put in place environmentally friendly and sustainable business practices including effective measures for fire control in order to qualify for the green label under the new criteria. More details of the certification will be announced at its launch in January 2017, SEC added.

Mr Chong also said that since Sep 1 this year, the Government can only procure Green Label printing paper, so that is one of the drivers for companies to be interested to remain on the Green Label.

“The yearly haze affects the health of the consumers as well as the economy,” he said. “And the enhanced Green Label for pulp and paper products gives them the power to take a stand against companies that cause the haze, as well as unsustainable practices that result in haze.”

To help companies understand the enhanced SGLS criteria, SEC will also conduct a workshop for paper manufacturing companies on Jan 10.

- CNA/mz

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