Hotels, F&B businesses join Pact to cut back on plastic use

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 30 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — Nine companies, including large hotel chains and popular food establishments, are teaming up to relook their plastic use under a new initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Through the initiative called Pact — short for Plastic ACTion — the businesses will set targets and take measures to reduce their plastic production and use by 2030.

These include taking long- and short-term measures to remove from their operations certain plastic items that are deemed unnecessary, WWF said at the project’s launch on Wednesday (Jan 30).

For a start, this may include removing plastic bags and straws, but the WWF stressed that the initiative will go further than just these measures.

In the long run, businesses will have to change and innovate product-design models, and find alternatives to their plastic materials.

They will also support conservation and research projects to find better materials, improve waste management or remove plastic items from nature.

Under the Pact initiative, companies are also committed to take responsibility for their plastic use beyond the point of sale, by collecting and recycling more plastic than they produce.

A survey by global public opinion and data company YouGov, commissioned by WWF, has found that 95 per cent of Singapore’s consumers acknowledge the environmental, health and pollution issues caused by the excessive use of disposable plastics.

Consumers here also view the food-and-beverage (F&B) and food retail sectors as the biggest sources of disposable plastic in Singapore.

Hotels under the Pontiac Land Group, which include luxury resort Capella Singapore, and those under the AccorHotels Group have pledged their commitment under the Pact.

The Ramada and Days Hotels by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park in the Balestier area, and Hilton hotels in Singapore such as Conrad Centennial Singapore, Hilton Singapore and Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon are also part of the initiative.

F&B chains such as PastaMania, SaladStop! and ice-cream brand Udders are also on board.

Ms Katherine Braha, owner and director of SaladStop!, told TODAY that since the outlets began charging 10 cents for a plastic bag about a year ago, consumption of plastic bags has reduced from 50,000 to 35,000 a month.

Some SaladStop! branches, out of at least 15 islandwide, have also begun a service where customers may “return” or “donate” plastic bags that have been lightly used for others who wish to reuse them.

This year, Ms Braha hopes to target paper bags, which are also chargeable.

In June, the chain launched its stainless steel straw initiative while working on removing all plastic straws by this year.

It is encouraging customers to use their own reusable containers and bottles for takeaways from the shops by rewarding them with a free topping for salads, for example.

Ms Braha acknowledged that it would be “very difficult” to repackage certain products such as cold-pressed drinks, now sold in plastic bottles, because many customers “grab them to go”.

However, she has a “long-term vision” for some of the outlets to have drink dispensers instead, “where people can serve themselves” and “bring their own bottles” to take away the drinks.

She is hoping to redesign one of the salad chain’s main outlets in the Central Business District to have such drink dispensers by the middle of this year.


Other brands — PastaMania, Udders and Kraftwich — which fall under Singapore-based investment company Commonwealth Capital, will also be reviewing their “plastics footprint”.

Ms Lock Hui Min, marketing manager at Commonwealth Retail Concepts, said that at PastaMania, for example, instead of using a plastic carrier bag for a pizza box, a sling which is made from sustainable plant-based material may be used instead for takeaways.

Udders has replaced plastic ice-cream spoons with wooden ones, and this move will be fully completed across all outlets by next month.

Since last year, Kraftwich outlets have started charging customers for plastic bags, and offering S$0.50 discounts to customers who use their own cups for takeaways.

For its restaurants, Kraftwich is looking to reduce the use of single-use plastic by 70 per cent in two years, while Udder’s goal is to reduce it by half and PastaMania, by 30 per cent.

Ms Lock said that while finding viable, cost-efficient alternatives for plastic is a “huge challenge”, it is still important that the brand takes the lead to change consumers’ perception and reliance on plastic.

Ms Kwee Wei-Lin, head of hotels (Singapore) at Pontiac Land, said that the group's hotels here, namely Capella Singapore, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Conrad Centennial Singapore and Regent Singapore, are in the midst of removing plastic straws. They are also replacing all their boxed amenities, such as soaps that may sometimes be packaged in boxes, with sustainable materials.

The group is planning to use reusable glassware instead of plastic bottles, with this change to kick off at Capella Singapore.

The WWF said that businesses that are part of Pact have committed to “clear, time-bound measures” on their past, present and future plastic use, aiming for “no plastics in nature” by 2030.

A growing number of F&B establishments including manufacturers, restaurants and cafes around the world have jumped on the bandwagon to cut down on the use of plastic.

In Singapore, cultured milk drink brand Yakult, fast-food chain KFC and integrated resort Resorts World Sentosa have already stopped offering plastic straws to their customers.

On Wednesday (Jan 30), DBS announced that it has removed all plastic straws from the cafeteria in its headquarters at Marina Bay Financial Centre and has distributed 2,500 sets of metal straws to employees.

The bank works with a vendor to reuse and reduce packaging for its electronic items, saving an estimated tonne of plastic waste a year. For the upcoming occasion of Chinese New Year, the bank stopped using plastic wraps for its red packets, avoiding 220kg in plastic wastage.

As part of its pledge to power all its Singapore operations using renewable energy by 2030, it installed 1,200 solar panels at its office buildings in Changi Business Park.

Elsewhere, government bodies have been supporting this movement to reduce plastic waste. Late last year, the authorities in Bali, Indonesia announced a ban on single-use plastics, including shopping bags, styrofoam food packets and straws.

Ms Braha said that while “sustainability is on trend”, she believes that businesses can "no longer take baby steps" to encourage a reduction in plastic use.

“Drastic measures need to be taken from all of us before it’s too late,” she said.


AccorHotels Group

Hilton hotels in Singapore



Pontiac Land Group

Ramada and Days Hotels by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park



Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Pastamania, Hilton and Wildlife Reserves Singapore among 9 companies pledging to cut plastic use
Timothy Goh Straits Times 30 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Going beyond simply banning plastic straws, nine companies here have pledged to take more targeted measures to reduce their plastic use.

For instance, Wildlife Reserves Singapore has committed to completely eliminating single-use plastics from its supply chain by 2025, with some exceptions such as for safety reasons.

Italian restaurant operator Pastamania said it is working towards reducing its packaging waste and eliminating single-use plastics over the next few years.

Ramada and Days Hotels by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park will also switch to 100 per cent reusable or recyclable product and packaging designs by 2020.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) announced on Wednesday (Jan 30) that the nine companies are signatories to the Plastic Action, or Pact, initiative. WWF launched this initiative in line with heightened public concern about the environmental and health impact of plastic pollution.

The other six companies involved are AccorHotels Group, Hilton Hotels in Singapore, Kraftwich, Pontiac Land Group, SaladStop! and Udders.

They are expected to take measures to cut plastic use within stipulated timeframes they set, starting with the removal of unnecessary plastics from their operations.

They will also take responsibility for their plastic use beyond the point of sale, by collecting and recycling more plastics than they produce.

In addition, they will take another look at the designs and types of plastics used in their products, to ensure more emphasis is placed on making them reusable and recyclable.

Finally, the companies will support a range of conservation and research projects, which may take the form of finding better materials for their plastics, improve waste management, or remove plastics from nature.

However, companies will not have to eliminate plastics entirely in certain situations. This is because they may still need plastics that are absolutely critical for a product, or for safety and hygiene reasons like cling wrap in food preparation.

Elaborating on this, a WWF spokesman said: "We recognise that certain plastics are still essential (for these reasons). The commitments are aimed at eliminating excessive or unnecessary plastic use by businesses, while switching to plant-based plastic or alternative materials that are more sustainable."

WWF Singapore's chief of strategic communication and external relations, Mr Kim Stengert, said: "There's no silver bullet for the world's growing crisis with plastics. While the removal of a straw or slight reduction of plastic bags is great, these measures are just not enough to match the level of the plastic pollution crisis."

He added that signatories to Pact were making an "ambitious and science-based" commitment to systemic change.

Supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Pact builds on WWF's vision of no plastics in nature by 2030.

Mr Stengert highlighted a 2018 survey by YouGov, which found that 95 per cent of consumers here acknowledged the environmental, health and pollution issues caused by the excessive use of disposable plastics.

In the survey, consumers also pointed to the food and beverage and food retail sectors as the biggest sources of disposable plastics in Singapore.

He said that such results showed that people in Singapore clearly understand the plastic problem and are willing to take actions that benefit the environment, even if it means inconveniencing themselves or paying for single-use plastics.

"That's an incredibly important signal to businesses in Singapore and the region," added Mr Stengert.

WWF said that addressing the use of plastics by businesses is key to addressing the crisis of plastic pollution as 80 per cent of plastics in the ocean are believed to come from land sources.

It is estimated that by 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight, with potential implications on human health and well-being.

WWF added that studies have found microplastics in the guts of one out of four fish, in tap water samples of 14 countries and even in air pollution.

Plastics are harmful to the environment for numerous reasons. For instance, they cannot degrade through biological processes, meaning they can remain in the environment for thousands of years.

Instead, they break down into smaller pieces, which are often consumed by marine animals, leading to malnutrition, intestinal blockage and slow poisoning.

Last year, several businesses across Singapore took steps to reduce the use of disposable plastics in their products. In December, Yakult Singapore announced it would no longer be providing plastic straws for its probiotic milk drinks.

Attractions and dining establishments at Resorts World Sentosa also stopped providing plastic straws since October, while fast-food chain KFC stopped giving customers plastic straws and lids for drinks in June.