Best of our wild blogs: 2 Sep 18

8 Sep (Sat): Evening walk at Pasir Ris in support of ACRES
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

16 Sep (Sun): Kayak Punggol to Ubin with Kayakasia
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Night Walk At Admiralty Park (31 Aug 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

The Flora of Singapore: Woody Liana
BES Drongos

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Companies going green: Sustainability strategies that also make good business sense

Channel NewsAsia 2 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE: More companies in Singapore are climbing onto the green bandwagon with initiatives like reducing plastic bag use or doing away with packaging altogether, a move that marketing experts say makes good business sense as there is growing consumer support for such strategies.

Chief executive of media, creative and digital communications agency Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific Nick Waters said that many people are becoming more environmentally aware, especially younger consumers who place an emphasis on a brand’s sustainability practices in their purchasing decisions.

“As a result, brands are increasingly putting focus on green efforts and we see service-based new economy clients having a stronger appetite to go green. This is usually because their business model allows them to be more agile,” he said.

Managing director for Singapore and Southeast Asia at public relations agency Golin Tarun Deo echoed this view on the attitudes off younger consumers.

“If done well, being green is a genuine opportunity to increase sales, especially with millennials, who arguably are more sensitive to most green issues,” he said.

Mr Deo said that many of Golin's clients are looking at the green space more vigorously than in the past. But he also said that “going green” can mean different things.

“Everyone interprets the sense of this in a different way. They think it is something that they need to do to ensure that their reputation is in keeping with the times," he said.

While he said it is a generally good thing, he questioned if companies are going far enough to drive change.

“Companies always come to us and say give me the one big idea, but this has to happen progressively. Longevity is a big factor. What you are doing today has to be long-term,” he said.

Mr Ken Hickson, who runs a sustainability consultancy and has been working in the green space for more than 10 years, said that environmental consciousness in Singapore is still a work in progress. However, he suggested that businesses need to do more than simply pay lip service to sustainable strategies.

“Some companies have definitely got on the green bandwagon, presumably to boost sales, but it’s not going to work unless you commit to taking real action that benefits the environment,” he said.

Lars Voedisch, managing director of PRecious Communications - which represents many international brands - said that while it does not hurt a company’s reputation if it is trying to do the right thing, there is less love for companies that have one-off eco-friendly initiatives in the name of corporate social responsibility.

“These companies get called out by consumers,” he said.

He added that consumers have patience for companies that show that they are on a journey towards sustainability.


Asia-Pacific Breweries’ director of corporate affairs Mitchell Leow gave an insight into his company’s perspective on recycling glass bottles.

“To put in that system, it's going to cost us - for manpower, logistics. When bottles come back, we have to wash them. It's going to incur costs,” he said.

The motivation behind the company’s green efforts, which started more than 10 years ago, was “doing the right thing”, he said.

APB, which produces Tiger Beer, has waste treatment plants onsite to recycle water used in the brewing process and solar panels that reduce its carbon footprint by 20 per cent, and a returnable bottle system with an 86 per cent return rate.

Elsewhere, NTUC FairPrice, which has more than 200 outlets, launched a plastic bag management framework to reduce the use of plastic bags, while Starbucks earlier this month said that it will be banning straws in outlets worldwide by 2020.

At RedMart, eco-friendly products under the company's label are more affordable than those from better-known brands.

"We believe being environmentally friendly should not come at an extra cost,” said RedMart’s head of non-foods Emma Paterson. A check on its website showed that its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) -certified 3-ply toilet paper at S$5.20 was cheaper than other products that were similarly certified. For example, a product from another brand cost S$6.95, for the same quantity. FSC is not-for-profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests.


Going green appears to have has reaped some benefits. At FairPrice, demand for environmentally-friendly kitchenware and picnic ware has increased by about 50 per cent over the past three years, while demand for environmentally-friendly household cleaning, personal care and baby care products has grown about 20 per cent, director of non-food products Mrs Mui-Kok Kah Wei said.

RedMart reported similar growth. Its FSC-certified toilet paper sales, for example, have more than doubled in 2017 compared to 2016, Ms Paterson said.

"We can see increasing awareness and demand for such products. Based on growing sales, we believe our customers are getting more environmentally conscious," she added.

Ms Jacqueline Singer, founder of Neis Haus, which specialises in eco-friendly products such as beeswax wraps and reusable straws, echoed the same views, describing growth since 2014 as “exponential”.

“Back in 2014, awareness was low compared to other countries like Australia and New Zealand. But since then, we've seen a huge growth in awareness, which has been helped by events like Earthfest, and some great social media groups locally,” she said.

She added that the interest is both from Singaporeans and expats, and cuts across ages.

However, the journey for retailers hoping to promote sustainability may be an uphill one. Mrs Mui-Kok acknowledged that there are some challenges in offering such products.

“A key barrier to bringing in these products is relatively higher costs due to the lower demand and supply for these products. Currently, eco-friendly products in the market are more expensive than mass, conventional brands,” she said. She added that it takes time for consumers to adopt environmentally-conscious efforts and choices.

Head of business strategy and development at the Singapore Environment Council Tay Sok Leng Said that when people bring sustainable practices to their offices and their homes and develop daily habits, market forces will eventually react.


Whether consumers consciously purchase goods that lower their environmental footprint, they can still contribute to sustainability, said Ms Pek Hailin from environmental group Zero Waste SG.

"Refusal is the easiest way to start without buying anything," she said.

For example, she said consumers could refuse straws and bags when they do not need them, and buy items without excessive packaging.

Dining at places instead of doing takeaways can also be less wasteful, especially at locations that do not serve disposables, she added.

When waste is generated, deciding whether it can be recycled first before discarding it into the general waste bin is also a good step to take, she said.

“Reusing what we already have and items around us, thinking twice about whether one needs an item before buying will definitely help as well,” she said.

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Malaysia: Illegal plastic recycling factories threatening the environment

mei mei chu The Star 1 Sep 18;

KLANG: Illegal plastic waste recycling factories are a threat to the environment, says Yeo Bee Yin.

The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister said the government had blocked the import of plastic waste a month ago and shut down 14 illegal recycling factories in Kuala Langat.

However, she added that many illegal factories that had imported plastic waste from January and June this year now have existing stock that cannot be processed.

During a press conference after a dialogue session with Klang residents on the Johan Setia open burning issue on Saturday (Sept 1), Yeo said some of these illegal factories had indiscriminately dumped the waste in empty plots of land.

She said the Ministry is studying measures to solve the problem.

Yeo emphasised that not all recycling plants are illegal and that the government would only take action against those that are unlicensed or polluting the environment.

The Bakri MP urged residents to report any unlicensed plastic factories polluting the environment to their local council or state assemblyman.

"This is not just an environmental issue, this is also a local council issue as it involves illegal factories," she said.

Britain's plastic waste export to Malaysia reportedly tripled during the first four months of 2018 after China placed a ban on waste imports.

As many as 38 plastic waste recycling factories had mushroomed in Kuala Langat over the past two years, posing a health hazard to residents as many of them were dumping waste into rivers.

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Malaysia: Blueprint from Klang peat fires to forge national SOP on open burning

mei mei chu The Star 1 Sep 18;

KLANG: A new inter-agency standard operating procedure (SOP) to solve the decade-old Johan Setia open burning problem will be used as a pilot project on how to address open burning cases nationwide.

The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Ministry is engaging various government agencies including the Fire and Rescue Department, Klang Land Office, Department of Environment, Klang Municipal Council and state assemblymen to come up with a new SOP to solve the Johan Setia peat fire once and for all.

Its minister Yeo Bee Yin said based on feedback from Klang residents during a dialogue on Saturday (Sept 1), she would also be engaging the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry and Home Ministry to tackle the problem.

This is because the fires are often started by foreign workers in the plantations.

"Klang is near to Parliament and Putrajaya, so I can come here easily but not other parts of the country, so we need an SOP that can be implemented nationwide," the Bakri MP added.

Yeo said she wanted to create two action plans after a post-mortem with the relevant agencies: one on prevention, the other on mitigation.

The prevention action plan will address how to reduce the risk of open burning in peat soil land.

The mitigation plan will address how to effectively coordinate all the different agencies in responding to open burning.

"One of the problems is that there are not enough coordination between the different agencies to solve the Johan Setia fires.

"We need to strengthen the coordination for fast action to be taken," Yeo said.

As the haze in Klang reached unhealthy levels last month, Yeo on Aug 15 visited Johan Setia and coordinated firefighting operations to put out fires across an estimated 8ha of peat soil.

"As a Federal Minister, I am here not to only solve local problem. We are solving a national problem where, if there is anything similar happening in other parts of the country, the same SOP must be applied to that," she said.

The SOP is expected to be ready in a month's time.

Residents of Klang and as far as Shah Alam have been struggling with the haze problem for years. They claimed it had been going on since 2008 despite multiple reports and promises by the state government.

They are demanding a permanent solution as they worry the haze causes respiratory illnesses.

Also present at the dialogue and the post-mortem was Department of Environment director Datuk Dr Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Che Ibrahim, Selangor Department of Environment director Siti Zaleha Ibrahim and Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Azmi Osman and Klang Land Office assistant district officer Mohamad Saiful Azeri and Sentosa assemblyman Gujarajah George

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