First company to get enhanced green label certification for its products

Jose Hong Straits Times 12 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE - Only one company so far has been successful in getting its products certified under the stricter guidelines of an enhanced green labelling scheme by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

Consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark Professional, which produces items such as Scott tissues, was the only company whose products were awarded the enhanced green label, out of a total of 13 companies that had applied.

Two companies linked to the haze that had affected Singapore previously applied but are still awaiting certification. They are Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (April).

On Tuesday (Dec 12), the SEC announced the products awarded the enhanced green label at an event at One Farrer Hotel and Spa.

Twelve items from Kimberly-Clark Professional were awarded this label under the SEC scheme, which helps consumers choose environmentally friendly products.

SEC chairman Isabella Loh said: "Companies which apply for SEC's eco-certification programmes go through a stringent audit process to assess their environmental performance... That's why achieving an eco-certification is both a significant achievement and an important milestone."

In January, the council launched the enhanced eco-labelling scheme for pulp and paper products, in response to the haze problem. In 2015, for instance, Singapore had suffered its worst haze on record.

Under the scheme's stricter rules, firms have to ensure that there is no burning on plantations, and that they quickly detect and put out fires when they occur.

Tuesday's event also saw the launch of a revamped SEC Green Map App that lets people know where the nearest recycling points are, as well as upcoming green activities such as beach cleanups.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli spoke at the event as the guest of honour.

SEC awards first enhanced green label to Kimberly-Clark
SIAU MING EN Today Online 12 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE — Consumer goods firm Kimberly-Clark became the first company to have 12 of its pulp and paper products certified by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) under the enhanced Singapore Green Labelling Scheme.

The scheme, revised in January, holds firms responsible for ensuring that in the production of their goods, there is proper management of peatland and fires, for instance.

Kimberly-Clark, the only company that qualified so far out of 13 applicants for the certification, produces brands such as Kleenex and Scott. The 12 certified products include hand and kitchen towels, tissue paper, napkins and toilet paper.

Announcing this at the SEC Eco-Certifications Appreciation Lunch event on Tuesday (Dec 12), the council said that the applications by the other 12 companies — including Fuji Xerox, Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings, and Asia Pulp & Paper Group — are still being processed.

Some of the stricter criteria that applicants have to meet include full disclosure of a product’s supply chain and the measures the company uses to detect and suppress fires on plantations when they occur. They also need to have proper management of peatland, where they are required to protect the biodiversity of peatlands through proper assessment and water management.

The more stringent standards are benchmarked against international eco-labelling schemes in Australia, the European Union, Japan and New Zealand.

An SEC spokesperson said that each certified product will be subjected to ground audits and reference checks on the company’s forestry practices. They will also be subjected to annual and periodic ground surveillance audits to ensure compliance, which can be conducted by SEC’s audit partners.

SEC’s chairman Isabella Loh said that the applicants are also profiled according to how much risk they pose to the environment — from their supply chain to the distribution and sale of products — which affects whether their products will get the certification.

More checks may be conducted based on the risk profile of the company’s products.

The certification for the new label is costlier at S$4,600 per product and lasts for three years, subject to a yearly audit.

Previously, certification costs S$1,500 for the first year and had to be renewed yearly for S$1,000. Fifteen companies offering about 30 pulp and paper products are on the old scheme, which will be phased out by July next year.

Even with the tougher standards and higher cost, Ms Loh said that more applicants from more countries, such as Brazil, Eastern Europe and the Nordic nations, have applied to get their products certified under the enhanced label.

The Singapore Green Labelling Scheme endorses industrial and consumer products that have less undesirable effects on the environment. It certifies products that are sold both in Singapore and other countries.

During the haze episode in 2015, the council suspended the use of its Green Label on Asia Pulp & Paper Group’s products, while some supermarket chains stopped selling paper products sourced from the group.

For consumers, Ms Loh said that buying pulp and paper products with the enhanced label is one way for them to “take their personal, most effective action on climate change”. When they buy such products, they are also rewarding companies which are doing the right thing and manufacturing sustainably, she added.

Mr Anuj Sinha, Kimberly-Clark Professional’s general manager for the region, said that the company applied for the latest certification to help customers make informed decisions.

“More and more so in today’s world, we notice that our customers tend to make decisions based on third-party accreditation… (The enhanced label) helps us demonstrate the environmental stewardship of our production process, that we have proper controls in place to avoid pollution, minimise the use of resources and reduce waste,” he added.

The company first received the SEC certification in 2012. After Tuesday, most of its products will be certified under the new scheme.

At the event on Tuesday, the council also launched a mobile application, the SEC Green Map, It provides information on nearby “green assets”, such as places to recycle e-waste, parks and nature reserves, eco-friendly food and beverage outlets, upcoming green activities, and other resources.

By the second half of next year, SEC plans to improve the app such that it can track the user’s carbon footprint. The app can be downloaded on the Google Play Store and will be available on the Apple App Store before Christmas.