SINGAPORE: Ahead of the haze season, five companies have banded together to encourage more companies to switch to sustainably produced palm oil.
Named the Singapore Alliance on Sustainable Palm Oil, the group said in a panel discussion on Monday (Jun 27) that it hopes their efforts will reduce the slash-and-burn practices used in the production of palm oil, which results in haze pollution.
Certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is palm oil grown on a plantation that does not cause harm to the environment or society. Issued by non-profit organisation Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the certification assures consumers, mostly through labels on products, that the standard of production is sustainable.
The five companies in the alliance, Unilever, Ayam Brand, Danone, IKEA, and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, have already been certified or are in the process of doing so.
The alliance is supported by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore, which will be actively recruiting more companies to join them in this effort.
“The Alliance sends a clear signal to consumers about which companies are committed to sustainability and which are not,” said CEO of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore Elaine Tan. “This is a timely opportunity for NGOs and businesses to work together towards transforming the palm oil industry.”
In 2015, Singapore was most affected by one of the worst haze situations in recent years, with prolonged hazy conditions of over a month and a half, and schools closed due to air quality for the first time.
That was also the year WWF Singapore launched the successful 'We Breathe What We Buy' campaign, which reached more than 20 million people globally. The organisation said that it believes that consumer pressure can persuade companies to change their practices and use sustainably produced palm oil.
"Together with its partners and peers in the industry, Unilever is committed to achieving zero deforestation with a long-term goal to source 100 per cent of our palm oil sustainably,” said Unilever Chief Procurement Officer Dhaval Buch. “Companies are encouraged to make a commitment and enable change by being a part of this National Alliance.”
Unilever is one of the largest consumers of palm oil in the world. The organisation consumes close to 1.5 million tonnes of palm oil a year, or 3 per cent of all palm oil produced in the world.