Indonesian paper company Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) has appointed SPRG Singapore as its communications agency. Following the appointment, the agency will be tasked with providing strategic counsel for APP, which looks to improve its stakeholder engagement and public communications, the press statement read.
According to Edwin Yeo, general manager of SPRG Singapore, one of the key motivations for SPRG to take on the role was due to the transformation that APP had undergone since 2015. This followed initial hesitation about working with a company which has been blamed for causing the haze in the past. But this changed after the agency did its research and spoke with internal stakeholders.
“I soon became convinced that the organisation has been undergoing a transformation since 2015, and has since spent US$80 million in firefighting and haze prevention efforts. It became very clear that a large part of its current perception problem is due to past communication efforts,” Yeo added.
According to the press statement, one move APP made was the appointment of former army general Bernard Tan as its managing director of corporate affairs and sustainability. Tan is also Singapore’s country president for the Sinar Mas Group, the parent company of APP.
“If we are to win the fight against the haze, it is very important for APP to work together with all stakeholders. They have placed an emphasis on changing the way they engage and communicate, and this will go a long way to repairing relationships and fostering better cooperation in tackling the fire and haze issue. We’re very happy to be able to play a role in that process,” Yeo added.
Back in 2015, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) asked leading supermarkets, pharmacies and furniture retailers to declare they have not procured or used wood, paper and/or pulp materials from any of the companies accused of causing fires in Indonesia.
These seven retailers were IKEA, Prime Supermarket, Sheng Siong, NTUC Unity, Watsons, NTUC FairPrice and Dairy Farm Group, which owns Cold Storage, Giant Singapore, Market Place by Jason’s, Guardian and 7-Eleven.
Following this action, NTUC FairPrice withdrew all paper products sourced from APP, which was being investigated by the National Environmental Agency at the time. The SEC also instituted a temporary restriction on the use of the “Singapore Green Label” certification for APP products.