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Greenpac packs a green punch
PACKAGING is something we all come across in our daily lives. But once its purpose has been served, the packaging is usually discarded - never to be seen or well, used, again.
Recognising the impact packaging waste would have if nothing was done to curb it, Greenpac was established. Set up in 2002, it is a company that specialises in re-engineering, designing and distributing environmentally innovative packaging products.
Susan Chong, founder and CEO of Greenpac, says: "I looked at the amount of packaging and thought: 'Do we really need so much stuff to package and protect a product?' That was my eureka moment and I began to explore further how to optimise the packaging without compromising on the integrity of the protection."
The company introduced the concept of "lean and green", which would lead to cost savings for companies. For example, the firm created RSCP™ Pallet with some green principles in mind - and it is now used by MNCs. The patented design allows 20 per cent to 60 per cent material savings, which equate to lighter weight and lead to freight cost savings.
As the pallet uses a nail-less technology - which prevents goods from getting damaged - it also greatly eases the recycling process.
Ms Chong explains: "We work upstream by looking into the design and optimising it by using environmentally friendly materials or materials from sustainable resources. We incorporate reusable feature to our products when possible as it helps reduce wastage. Also, with the product being lighter in weight, less fuel is needed for transit and thus leads to a reduction in carbon footprint."
On the challenges of going green, the CEO reveals that it was initially an uphill battle when "green" was still a raw concept yet to be embraced by many firms.
"Patience and resilience were needed to engage people and to make them realise that going green would be the next big thing.
"People tend to (have) fear when there is a lack of knowledge or understanding. The common response is usually about sustainability - can this really be done and what about the upkeep? By drawing up actual solutions which reflect huge economic impact in terms of cost savings, customers get to see the numbers themselves and therefore, would be convinced."
Ms Chong adds that she is someone who becomes more motivated when placed in adversity.
Although NEA is to introduce mandatory reporting of packaging data and waste-reduction plans by 2021, Ms Chong says that Singapore must continue to educate and advocate.
"There is a need to take into consideration regulating the green efforts, especially industrial waste. Incentivise the upstream by looking into designing and using sustainable and green materials. Waste will continue to accumulate unless a strong stance is taken."
From a one-woman startup to a now more than 40-strong company, Ms Chong notes that it is imperative the staff understand the core structure of the business - to be green. "We also have our in-house hydroponics where we plant and harvest our own greens which are cooked for lunch. We also factor in green behaviour and green activities in the appraisal."
Grace Low, executive officer of Greenpac, adds: "We have all been indoctrinated since young to be environmentally conscious. However, joining Greenpac changed me from 'knowing' to 'acting' on it - I have taken steps to remind myself to bring eco-bags when shopping. "
For firms which want to go green but hesitate to do so due to factors such as size and cost, Ms Chong has this advice: "The size of the firm is not a concern because it is the mentality of the leadership which will make it work."