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Greenpac's innovative packaging promotes sustainability

The home-grown company's products are helping industry to become environmentally friendly and cut down on waste.

Ms Chong says that with Greenpac's installation of solar panels, the energy harvest powers up the premises and makes it a zero-energy office.

Ms Chong says that with Greenpac's installation of solar panels, the energy harvest powers up the premises and makes it a zero-energy office.

HOME-GROWN SME Greenpac is on a mission to promote sustainability. A knowledge-based company, it specialises in re-engineering, designing and distributing innovative, environmentally friendly packaging products and solutions in Singapore.

Greenpac is the brainchild of its enterprising chief executive officer, Susan Chong, who started the company in September 2002. Under her leadership, the company has steadily grown from a one-woman startup to a thriving multimillion dollar business.

Focusing on sustainability is important for businesses as besides promoting social good, it also makes good business sense for companies, says Ms Chong. "Sustainability is important as it means having the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs. From the perspective of a business, it is crucial that our business activities are sustainable to ensure long-term robust growth of the company.

"We need to be socially responsible as well in the acquisition of raw materials used to create our innovative packaging. If we do not look into sustaining resources, we risk running into deficit in future when the resources become limited or scarce," she points out.

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On its part, Greenpac is helping industry to be environmentally friendly and cut down on waste. "Our mission is to partner customers to re-engineer their industrial packaging processes by creating innovative and environmentally friendly packaging solutions that will achieve bottomline savings, be green and boost the supply chain efficiency. By performing in-depth analysis, we suggest the minimal possible packaging yet without compromising on the performance and protection of the packaging.

"Taking the upstream into consideration during the designing stage, we optimised the use of material such that less waste is generated with the reduction of material needed. Also, we source for materials which are from sustainable resources. In Greenpac, we are dedicated to performing tests to ensure the most effective and cost efficient packaging for our customers - which translates to bottomline savings and reduction of waste," says Ms Chong.

Innovative solution

An innovative packaging solution that Greenpac developed recently for a client helped the company to clinch the Excellence Award at the latest 3R Packaging Awards by the National Environment Agency (NEA). The product to be packed was a medical instrument weighing a hefty 12 kg and about a metre in height. The original packaging was a heavy wooden crate.

"We innovated the packaging by changing the original wooden crate to a carton box such that the total package weighed less than 30 kg, which means it could be checked in as a luggage instead of a cargo shipment with its original packaging," says Ms Chong.

Another good example is the special packaging that Greenpac re-engineered for the transportation of live ornamental fish overseas. It is done in such a way that even if one air pocket gets damaged during shipment; that damage will not compromise the integrity of the packaging. With that, the rest of the fish will continue to enjoy a safe passage to its destination.

Ms Chong says that Greenpac is constantly challenging itself and looking for inspiration and ideas to re-engineer innovative packaging to cater to its customers' needs.

"We are also committed in driving corporate social responsibility within and beyond the company. We believe in doing well and doing good. Being sustainable, innovative and environmentally friendly is our business. We are constantly on the lookout for ground-breaking technology or ideas to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, and allow us to be innovative in the way we adopt our packaging solutions for our customers. We are en route to internationalisation in the near future," she adds.

Greenpac's services include kit packing, programme management, warehousing, professional packing, rigging and contract packing.

The company says that its clients include some of the world's largest Fortune 500 companies and many others, who have appointed it as their preferred partner for industrial packaging solutions. These companies hail from a range of industries, namely aviation, defence, information technology, semi-con and pharmaceuticals. The company's business model is well poised to capitalise on the "green wave" that is influencing the way companies conduct their activities, such as the international environmentally friendly compliance standards that are emerging and the technological advancement in transportation methods.

Greenpac's contributions to innovation and environmental sustainability have been recognised with various prestigious certifications and awards. It was ranked fourth in the Enterprise 50 Award in 2008, and to name a few, the company has won the WorldStar Packaging Award, Asia Star Award and Singapore Packaging Star Award in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for its innovation and quality in packaging. The company also won the Singapore Quality Award from Spring Singapore in 2014.

Ending a wasteful habit

How did she decide to set up Greenpac and why, we asked Ms Chong. "I was looking at the amount of packaging that is being thrown away and thought to myself, this is so wasteful! Why are we wasting so much material on packaging that is not even reusable? Why are we putting so much foam unnecessarily? My mind began to run wild as I contemplated what can I do? How can I help?

"Hence, just slightly prior to 2002, I was committed to ending such a wasteful habit. Greenpac will and is to be the answer. I relooked into the packaging itself and innovated it in such a way that maximum protection is still provided for the product but with the use of minimal packaging material. Greenpac was then founded in 2002. I have never looked back since," says Ms Chong.

The company has progressed well over the years despite hurdles along the way which she faced as a determined entrepreneur, not willing to give up. "The company is on a steady growth path having grown into a thriving business with potential for exponential growth. We rented a space at Pandan then but with progress, we envisioned a green infrastructure that will sustain our green business as it enables us to produce green products. The first ever 'green' factory was then built in Singapore - Greenhub.

"I believe in the use of renewable energy and was determined to install solar panels on the roof top. With the installation of solar panels, energy harvest could power up the office and hence we are well established as a zero-energy office. There are bound to be some curve balls at times, which is good, it sharpens my mind and hones my trade. However, we will always emerge victorious as we are always about being innovative and thinking out of the box," says Ms Chong.

Being an entrepreneur has been an adventure for Ms Chong. Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs: "One should be resilient and disciplined as one may enter uncharted waters. To feel the constant wanting to strive and set oneself apart from everyone; in order words, to make a mark for yourself. It takes a good load of will power and the unwavering desire to outdo yourself."

"Singapore is so much smaller compared to the 'giants' on the international platform. It is crucial that Singapore is constantly reinventing itself and growing. We need more entrepreneurs to step up and contribute to the growth of a sustainable future economy for the next 50 years at least," she adds.

Ms Chong says that exciting times lie ahead for her business. "As a first mover, there are multiple business opportunities and we continue to enjoy exponential growth over the years. We plan to internationalise in the near future. There have been several new, exciting and ground-breaking innovative technology breakthroughs which will help surge us forward to internationalisation."

She adds: "As a budding entrepreneur then who was aiming for a breakthrough in innovation, I know it is important how I have to adjust the game plan accordingly." "Innovation is not just about adding value in a superficial manner, or adding more of the same. That would be similar to providing the same thing at a lowered cost, creating better, yet similar products, or giving better but the same service. It is more of adding value incrementally, which is good for a company that is striving for continuous improvement," she says.

Re-examining fundamentals

"For a business to be a game changer, we need to re-examine the fundamentals in which the way things are done by constantly innovating. Question the traditional and conventional methodology of how things are done. Even technology changes all the time, how is it then that we as entrepreneurs stay stagnant in our thoughts and business directives?

"For budding lady entrepreneurs in a mostly male dominated industry, we have to work harder to earn the respect from all. We need to lead by example," says Ms Chong.