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Pulp and paper production dominate the peatland fire hotspots in Sumatra

Much focus has been placed on sustainable palm oil consumption in light of SG haze. But do you know that the biggest cause of deforestation in Riau, an Indonesian province where SG transboundary haze is attributed to, actually comes from pulpwood production?

Among the 9000 fire hotspots in Sumatra, 30% were caused by pulp and paper production. Similar to the palm oil trade, boycotting paper and pulp products is not a feasible solution since they are daily necessities too. However, there is an instance where paper and pulp products were boycotted in the wake of haze. Indonesia company, Asia Pulp and Paper Company (APP) was initially served a notice by NEA under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) before being delivered a boycott sanction in light of an online petition calling for its products to be taken off the shelves. However, the setback of doing so is that companies will be disincentivised from being transparent in their reporting, for fear of being ‘targeted’ for investigation.

Therefore, practising sustainable paper and pulp product consumerism is the better alternative. We recommend looking out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label when shopping for paper and pulp products. The FSC accreditation is only issued to companies that use responsible forestry practices. They include good water quality management, biodiversity conservation, protection of indigenous communities, and abatement of forest cover loss. In the wake of APP’s boycott saga, RedMart, a prominent online supermarket removed all APP products from its shelves and declared that all its products under the ‘Paper & Tissue’ category are FSC-certified.

In addition to FSC, we should look out for the Enhanced SLGS (Singapore Green Labelling Scheme) ecolabel. This certification requires companies to improve peatland management and partake in early fire detection and suppression. Enhance SLGS has been awarded the ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation, which is a conformity assessment for pulp and paper products. Considering that peatland fires are the main source of SG haze, supporting products with this ecolabel would be a sustainable option in the long run.

Of course, we can always recycle paper or use lesser papers whenever possible. After all, a small step goes a long way. Let us use sustainably-sourced paper and pulp products now!

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