Firms recognised for sustainable practices

Jordan Skadian Channel NewsAsia 4 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: She realised her company was using unnecessarily large amounts of plastic to wrap the nyonya kueh it produced for hotels and entertainment establishments.

So, Ms Claire Ariela Shen, managing director of Cooking Art Industries, decided to cut down on excessive packaging through measures such as reusing empty flour bags as recycled trash bags.

While such efforts might not have led to huge cost savings – just a few hundred dollars a year – Ms Shen said she was increasingly concerned with responsible business practices, especially environmental ones.

Her company is among the 149 signatories to the Singapore Packaging Agreement that aims to reduce packaging waste, which makes up more than a third of domestic waste here.

Since 2007, when the agreement was signed, the amount of packaging waste generated by the signatories has been reduced by 20,000 tonnes – enough to fill eight Olympic-sized swimming pools – saving the companies more than S$44 million in the process.

For its efforts to strip down its packaging, Cooking Art Industries was among 20 firms that were recognised for their 3R – reduce, reuse, recycle – efforts by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (June 3).

Other winners at the 3R Packaging Awards ceremony, held at the Singapore Art Museum, included Nestle Singapore, which picked up the top Platinum Award.

By reducing the thickness of its instant-drink packaging and removing cardboard dividers when packing products for delivery, Nestle saved more than 36 tonnes of packaging material in a year.

City Developments, the developer of the eco-friendly City Square Mall, received a Merit Award for providing recycling bins for tenants and customers.

Ms Shen told TODAY she hoped small and medium enterprises (SMEs) such as her company would be given greater incentives to take part in the NEA’s 3R initiative.

“The grants (from the NEA’s 3R fund) required a certain level of tonnage (output) that is not viable for every small company, and the NEA could do with making the process less intimidating,” she said.