Firms 'can profit from being green'

Environmental innovation can lead to commercial advantage, says Tharman
Grace Chua Straits Times 18 Oct 13;

INNOVATIVE companies can avoid sacrificing environmental friendliness for commercial success, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

He was speaking at the opening of sustainable packaging firm Greenpac's new 18,000 sq m premises in Boon Lay.

Greenpac produces packaging for high-tech, delicate equipment like large surgical microscopes but with less reliance on materials like styrofoam, cardboard and wood than other companies. This is not only environmentally friendly but also saves clients shipping costs by cutting packaging weight and size. Some of the packaging is also reusable.

Few firms, conscious of their bottom line, will look only for green products, said chief executive Susan Chong. "But if you give (clients) a (lower) price with green products as a bonus... everybody will want to buy from you."

Over a decade, she has turned the one-woman start-up into a firm with more than 30 staff and a turnover of $70 million a year "while showing that companies can get commercial advantage through environmental value", said Mr Tharman.

In fact, he added, innovation of any sort - environmental or otherwise - can be an advantage. "SMEs (small to medium enterprises) can do well through innovation with all the support the Government is providing," he said.

He added that the Government has several schemes to help such businesses improve technology and efficiency while there are also industrial parks like Tukang Innovation Park, where Greenpac is based, at which specialised firms can share services and collaborate.

Greenpac's $20 million "Green Factory" also features natural skylights, 454 kilowatt-peak (kwp) of solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system that waters a roof garden.

Ms Chong added that the company also plans to calculate the carbon footprint of its products.

Singapore's first "green" factory embraces environmentally friendly practices
Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 17 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: Greenhub -- Singapore's first "green" factory -- was officially opened on Thursday by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Greenhub's nondescript exterior belies the effort and the attention to detail that has gone into Singapore's first green factory.

The factory embraces environmentally friendly processes all the way from its construction down to its daily operations.

Its self-tinting windows act as a natural cooler, regulating excess sunlight and heat.

There are also solar panels on the rooftop which help offset the office space's annual energy consumption of 160,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

The excess electricity generated is sold off to Singapore Power.

It is also the first industrial building in Singapore to quantify its carbon footprint during the construction phase.

This was in collaboration with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, a research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

This allows it to benchmark itself against industry norms and to keep the footprint low.

Greenhub is owned by Greenpac, a company that offers redesigned packaging solutions that encourage environmental sustainability.

For example, the crates that the company uses to transport their packages are made from processed wood sourced from ecologically sustainable forests.

Light and reusable, these crates help to reduce freight charges as well as saving the environment in terms of less fossil fuel consumption during the export process.

"We are constantly looking at waste management and upstream - how we can use less and generate less waste," said Greenpac CEO Susan Chong.

She said the company also looks at using the right sustainable material so that it will have lesser challenges in disposing the waste.

"That is probably more effective than just waste management," she said.

At its opening on Thursday, Mr Tharman said Greenpac has transformed itself from a one-person start up 10 years ago into a thriving company with an annual turnover of S$70 million.

Mr Tharman said: "You've done it in a way which shows how many other companies can get commercial advantage through environmental value, through environmental protection as a commercial strategy but the core of it is innovation. That's what Greenpac is about."

"Our SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can do well through innovation with all the support that the government is providing," he added.

The $20-million building is located close to Boon Lay. It houses Greenpac's warehouse and office space in its 18,000 square metre premises.

- CNA/fa