Singapore Retailer Pulls Indonesian Toilet Rolls in Haze Row
Singapore’s largest supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice said it would pull toilet paper and other products sourced from Asia Pulp & Paper from its shelves after the company was among those named responsible for forest fires that have engulfed Southeast Asia in hazardous smoke.
NTUC FairPrice will remove all paper products from APP by 5 pm on Wednesday following a temporary restriction by the Singapore Environment Council on the use of a Green Label certification for those products, it said in a statement. Products affected include those by Paseo, Nice and Jolly brands, it said.
“We initiated meetings with the various parties concerned when the list of firms including APP, was named by the authorities as suspects for contributing to the haze," Seah Kian Peng, chief executive officer of NTUC FairPrice, said in the statement.
Though an annual phenomenon, smog from the illegal burning in the tropical forests of Sumatra and Borneo this year has been exacerbated by dry conditions from El Nino. The resulting haze has blown across Southeast Asia for the past five weeks, blanketing Singapore, parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in a smog that has closed schools and forced some people to flee their homes. FairPrice’s move signals a consumer backlash that could hurt tourism, health and productivity in the region.
Seah, who’s a member of Singapore’s Parliament, said it took the lead with the latest move because of the grocery chain’s market share.
"People look to us," he told reporters at a store on Wednesday. ”Whether other companies follow suit, I think that’s for them to decide."
Singapore’s environment ministry has said it served Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper with a notice for information on measures taken by its subsidiaries and suppliers to put out fires on Indonesian land.
The company said it has provided the information based on the deadline set and has also invited the city-state’s environment officials to visit its operations in Indonesia.
“We take forest fire very seriously,” Asia Pulp & Paper said in an e-mailed response to queries. “We have been working with our suppliers and our government around the clock for months trying to control forest fires in the landscapes our suppliers are operating.”
Indonesia, which set a deadline about two weeks ago to put out the forest fires, said Tuesday it’s difficult to push for a timeline with farmers still burning to clear land and as it faces unpredictable weather patterns.
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