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'Say yes to less waste'

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How may the private sector do its part to reduce plastic/other pollution in the oceans? What incentives or other measures could help in combating the problem?


THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How may the private sector do its part to reduce plastic/other pollution in the oceans? What incentives or other measures could help in combating the problem?

John Bittleston
Founder and Chair
Terrific Mentors International Pte Ltd

BUSINESS must make more visible and continuous efforts to develop the circular economy. Employees should be rewarded for showing how they can contribute to this.

Examples of business extravagance include failing to make use of cloud storage, insisting on paper when virtual will do and misunderstanding the uses and potential of passwords to facilitate the digitisation of communications and systems. A heavy tax on plastic and paper would make the problems of pollution and waste clear to users. Businesses should be responsible for running weekend clean-up parties and modestly rewarding their employees to recover plastic waste on land and sea. "What you do is the example you set."

Victor Mills
Chief Executive
Singapore International Chamber of Commerce

REDUCING pollution and waste is everyone's responsibility. It starts with businesses redesigning products and minimising packaging so that they are recyclable. Consumers need to make informed choices about what they buy. Each household needs to embrace recycling. These actions are underpinned by all municipalities having rubbish collection, recycling capabilities and waste disposal processes in place to prevent plastics ending up in rivers and flowing into our oceans.

Tax incentives to encourage research in recyclable products and packaging and financing for infrastructure projects for waste collection, recycling and disposal would help. Our survival and that of future generations is at stake.

Thomas Holenia
Henkel Singapore

AT Henkel, we believe that solving the plastic issue is a joint responsibility. That's why we are actively engaged in several partnerships aiming to drive progress towards a circular economy. They include our participation in the New Plastics Economy initiative, cooperation with Plastic Bank and founding membership in the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. We've also set ourselves ambitious targets for sustainable packaging. For example, by 2025, 100 per cent of Henkel's packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Globally, we train our employees as Sustainability Ambassadors and engage them to drive sustainability along the entire value chain. In Singapore, our employees have participated in marine debris sample collection and various coastal and waterways cleanup efforts. This year, we will also rally our employees to participate in Henkel's global coastal waste collection initiative. By joining forces, we can make an impact and protect our environment.

Seah Kian Peng
NTUC FairPrice

TO address the issue of plastic pollution, a sustained, concerted and decisive effort among industry players, government agencies and the community is required. At NTUC FairPrice, sustainability is one of four pillars under our overall CSR commitments.

Amongst other things, we continue to take affirmative actions to reduce plastic bag use through a comprehensive framework that encompasses the efforts of like-minded partners, while also incorporating sustainability initiatives that take into consideration consumer needs and practices of our operations. We encourage the community to join us and be responsible by taking a first step to use less plastic bags so that we may collectively create a more sustainable environment.

Ruth Yeoh
Executive Director
YTL Singapore

THERE is a moral obligation for the private sector to conduct business responsibly, above anything else. All stakeholders must continue to work on developing alternative substrates to plastic, design and implement return and reuse systems, and focus at the same time on cleaning up polluted waterways and oceans.

However, the stick may work just as effectively as the carrot, so a robust regulatory framework and the imposition of stiff penalties are also required to drive necessary change in lifestyle and habits.

Yeoh Oon Jin
Executive Chairman
PwC Singapore

THE private sector can do its part to reduce pollution by minimising the amount of plastic generated at source, increasing the collection of plastics and reducing post-collection leakages. At PwC, we manage our own environmental impact and beyond through reducing our own use of plastics as well as participating in volunteering efforts to clean our beaches.

Forward-looking companies have started integrating circular economy principles into their operations like re-designing products and using new materials that facilitate end-of-life recycling. Measures such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems, advanced disposal levies to product bans and dumping fines can also help combat pollution.

Prakash Govindan
Co-Founder & CTO
Gradiant Corp

THE majority of industrial processes produce wastewater that contaminates oceans/surface water and increases landfill wastes, upending the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and irreversibly damaging water bodies. Business leaders can champion conservation efforts in their own fields through the adoption of innovative wastewater treatment technologies, creating a circular economy where usable resources are extracted from wastewater and reinvested into industrial processes.

This vastly reduces not only the environmental footprint but also decreases operating costs in the long run. Challenges to implementation involve high upfront investment, which can be mitigated by not only technological innovation but also by a creative business model (such as one in which the water treatment company owns, operates, and maintains the infrastructure).

Nirvik Singh
Chairman & CEO
Grey Group, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa

THERE are a multitude of ways the advertising industry can help and raising awareness by visualisation is one of the most powerful means. GREY Malaysia's Unforgettable Bag' a Cannes Lions Award-winning campaign for Tesco (which encouraged customers to embrace reusable bags) not only raised awareness globally but contributed to behavioural change. The same with the agency's "Plastic Diet" campaign for WWF, which drew worldwide media attention to the volume of plastic people inadvertently consume.

Even at a local level one can take meaningful action, GREY Singapore staff recently volunteered to do a Changi Beach clean-up. This helps to protect the environment as well as give back to the community.

At a global level, one can take WPP as an example. It recently took the word "plastic" out of its name - Wire & Plastic Products - and has committed to phasing out single-use plastics in all of its 3,000-plus agency offices and campuses worldwide by 2020. It has also signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and pledged to work with clients and partners to drive change.

The advertising world can lead when it comes to championing waste-free living. It has the commitment, and the communications expertise to help make plastic pollution a priority for people. By collaborating at scale, it can make an even more discernible difference.

Paul Dickson
Executive Chairman
Integrated Green Energy Solutions Ltd

TACKLING the issue of plastic pollution needs immediate and urgent attention, and the public and private sectors need to work together to achieve this goal. While governments are laying the important groundwork and taking affirmative actions through policy-making and public awareness campaigns, the private sector can contribute technology expertise and innovative solutions to help build a resource-efficient future.

An example is IGES' patented and commercially-proven technology that converts end-of-life plastics destined for landfill into road-ready fuels that require no further processing, blending or refining. This technology offers a sustainable solution to reduce plastic pollution and deliver lasting positive impact to governments and local communities to create a cleaner planet for the next generation.

Stu Garrow
SVP of Sales and GM, Asia-Pacific

ACCORDING to the National Environment Agency, in 2017 only 6 per cent of the 815,200 tonnes of plastic waste generated was recycled. The issue of waste management and reduction, but also recycling and recovery, are major challenges for all humanity in terms of both resources and the environment.

By leveraging data collection and analysis, the waste industry can help to reduce these challenges through better management decision making. Real-time logistics flow management with better adapted collection routes, waste recovery where waste becomes secondary raw material for industrials, transfer of non-recyclable common waste to incineration plants to produce energy or to storage centres that capture the biogas produced by the fermentation of organic waste are a few methods.

In the waste management sector, data-driven strategy is certainly in its early stages; however, there are certainly opportunities to use data to improve planning, efficiency levels and recycling efforts.

Andy Postlethwaite
Chairman & Board Director, BASF South-east Asia Pte Ltd;
SVP, Performance Materials Asia Pacific

PLASTICS are efficient materials that can save resources and offer convenience for society. They become a problem when they are not managed or disposed properly and end up in the environment. As one of the world's leading chemical companies, BASF is engaged in reinforcing responsible handling of plastics, including promotion of solutions contributing to a circular economy.

The global Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), an alliance of some 30 companies including BASF, will drive solutions to solve the world's plastic waste problem. The alliance will work with governments, academia, non-government organisations and civil society to invest in joint projects to eliminate plastic waste from the environment.

Anders Liss
Country Manager
Scania Singapore

THE greatest hope is in educating our youth on the environmental impact of every decision they make. This is where the private sector can contribute, by working together with schools and youth groups on programmes that will raise awareness of pollution and other environmental issues.

The children of today will play a significant role in shaping the future we want. From a young age, children can form lifelong habits to reduce the use of plastics and carry reusable food containers and water bottles. Children can also take away what they learn to influence their family members to recycle and dispose of waste in responsible ways.

Emre Olcer
President, South-east Asia
Mondelez International

WE can make the most meaningful difference with the greatest positive impact on the planet and its people - if corporations leverage on their global scale. At Mondelez International, we reduce our environmental impact by using less energy, water and waste, and commit globally to make all packaging recyclable by 2025, all paper-based packaging sourced sustainably by 2020, and minimising our overall food waste.

As of this year, we are proud to have removed 65 million kilogram of packaging material, as one of the many steps towards leading the future of snacking sustainably.

Jayaprakash Jagateesan
Chief Executive Officer
RHT Holdings Pte Ltd

FOR starters, the dozens of private sector events held each week can adopt environmentally friendly steps as prescribed by the Sustainable Singapore Movement.

We did just that at the inaugural RHT Rajan Menon Foundation GAIL Sustainability Day last week. Participants at the sustainability forum, held at green event space Sentosa Golf Club, were encouraged to return their lanyards and plastic ID cases at the end of the event for re-use. This is a small step in the right direction.

The government could consider giving private companies tax breaks to conduct sustainability audits to review their operations, find ways to improve and adopt the right practices to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently.

Erich Gerber
TIBCO Software

POLLUTION can be caused by overproduction as well as lack of controls and policing at the government level. There are no easy solutions for the challenge posed by plastic pollution. However, emerging technologies, such as AI, can help the private sector do its part. Advanced Analytics can be leveraged along the supply chain to reduce wastage - by accurately predicting consumption, we can avoid overproduction.

Similarly, AI algorithms can help climate scientists understand natural systems and forecast patterns, helping to identify effective interventions, as well as facilitating enhanced coordination among researchers to share and analyse key data on pollution. Data analytics could also contribute to tackling marine pollution by using satellite imaging to locate and track ocean trash. Using analytics in this way, the private sector can gain a business advantage to sell to environment-conscious consumers.

Vincent Magnenat
Limited Partner and CEO
Lombard Odier Asia-Pacific

TO put things right in our oceans, we need to rethink entire industries. Organisations need to look in-depth at every aspect of how they operate, from product innovation to waste management, from third-party suppliers to ownership models.

As a wealth manager, Lombard Odier believes that companies with sustainable business practices, financial models and business models will drive excess investment returns, and this is what we convey to our clients. Demand is perhaps the strongest force for change. At a time when investors demand sustainable investment products, and the security of supply and cost of raw materials are weighing on industrial companies' results and prospects, we believe it is intuitive for businesses to consider the lasting consequences of their actions, including rethinking ways to reduce waste and manage pollution.

Dileep Nair
Independent Director
Thakral Corporation Limited

MANY in Singapore may say, "We do not dump our plastic waste. We change our trash to ash." True. But is it sustainable without legions of foreign workers? Or ample landfills for the ash? We need to tackle the root cause of reducing plastic waste at source. Companies that use plastics have a pivotal role to play. They can help nudge consumers from a throwaway culture by removing single-use plastics.

Promoting recycling is another avenue. Our plastic waste recycling rate is only 4 per cent. Compared to the 20 per cent world average, we have a long way to go. Reducing packaging waste is yet another area. The Singapore Packaging Agreement initiative for companies to reduce such waste is a good, albeit, voluntary move. Ultimately, long lasting change is driven by legislation and good policy intervention.

Targets need to be set for companies to reach in their use and disposal of plastics. To spur innovation in reducing, recycling and disposing plastic waste, the government should also sponsor research through grants from the National Research Foundation. Hopefully then, we will become a shining example of a "zero waste" nation.

Paul Henaghan
SVP, Data Centre Solutions, APJ
Dell Technologies

WITH the spotlight on growing environmental concerns around plastic waste, corporations are paying more attention as industry and consumers demand environmentally friendly products. At Dell Technologies, our entrepreneurial spirit drives us to innovate and advance sustainability initiatives, and we intercept ocean-bound plastics to repurpose them, collaborating with many other organisations to scale up the adoption of best practices in preventing plastics from reaching our oceans.

One way to combat the problem is to apply a creative focus on sustainability for products and services. For instance, the concept of a circular economy drives much of our sourcing and design, and we strive to use, and reuse, materials responsibly, with 94 per cent of weight of packaging made from renewable or recyclable materials. Besides pioneering the use of recycled content, we also developed new processes with our suppliers to close the recycling loop on various materials, such as creating ink from diesel emissions in India.

We're huge advocates for the circular economy model and believe that harnessing technology can help drive positive environmental changes, and eventually, human progress.

Alan Watts
President, Asia-Pacific

ThE private sector needs to support the acceleration of corporate stewardship. As one of the fastest-growing hospitality companies in the Asia-Pacific, Hilton is committed through our Travel with Purpose Strategy, which aims to uphold our responsibility to the environment to ensure sustainable travel and tourism for the next generation.

In accelerating corporate stewardship, we have encouraged our team members to be part of the solution. With their support, Hilton has banned plastic straws and eliminated plastic water bottles from our meetings and events. Together, we are piloting plastic alternatives with suppliers and partnering on campaigns such as NEA's "Say Yes to Less Waste" to build awareness.

Matt Gray
VP, Commercial, Asia Pacific
Royal DSM

THE private sector has made strides in embracing the economic model of a circular economy that designs out waste and pollution, keeps materials in use for as long as possible and recovers waste, using it as a resource for production.

Given that the ocean makes up 71 per cent of Earth's surface, no one can solve the problem of plastic pollution alone. Private firms can do their part to fuel global change through the phasing out of or stricter regulation of plastic products.

There should also be more effort put towards recovering waste products through innovative sustainable solutions, whether through strategic partnerships or the uptake of technology. There is significant financial opportunity in the downstream of a circular economy, and this is where the business motivator lies.

Axel Berkling
Executive VP, Asia-Pacific
KONE Corporation

BUSINESSES today have an important role in reducing carbon footprint. As good corporate citizens, we should work with all the stakeholders to drive change and set targets beyond the minimum requirements. At KONE, we strive to be a global leader in sustainability. One way is through increasing energy and resource efficiency as we envision making sustainable offerings a reality.

Our innovation efforts are focused in contributing to the circular economy and delivering solutions that urban populations truly need. We work closely with our suppliers in selecting materials that are environmentally friendly and recyclable to develop products with long lifetime and modularity.

Masaya Nakamura
Deputy Chairman & Chief Growth Officer
Dentsu Aegis Network Asia-Pacific

TODAY'S consumers are increasingly placing importance on a brand's sustainability practices in their purchasing decisions. However, more needs to be done to bring awareness of the risks of ocean pollution into the heart of public consciousness. Here at Dentsu Aegis Network, Dentsu Singapore and

Green is the New Black launched a Plastic Salt campaign using miniature 3D printed salt grinders, to bring to light how microplastic pollution is not just in our oceans but has made its way into our lives, and into the food we eat. Alongside the plastic salt video for World Earth Day, we are also educating young people in Singapore on the impact of plastic pollution in our school outreach programme The Code. We are reaching 400 students and donating 500 hours back to schools in Singapore in July as part of this programme.

Onat Bayraktar
Vice President
Sealed Air-Asia

Businesses should recognise their responsibility as industry leaders and actively champion for solutions to mitigate their environment impact across all levels. Whether it is in adopting conscious waste management practices internally, or collaborating with customers and industry partners to build a waste-free future.

At Sealed Air, we are in business to protect and to solve critical packaging challenges, and to leave our world better than we found it. Sustainability needs to be part of a business' commitment. For instance, Sealed Air has pledged to deliver 100 per cent recyclable or reusable packaging offerings, and 50 per cent average recycled content across all solutions by 2025. We urge businesses to collaborate for change and focus on collective action to influence and drive positive environmental impact across the value chain.

Praba Thiagarajah
Founder & Group CEO
Basis Bay

AS a global thought leader in Green IT, Basis Bay believes a balanced world is possible where the welfare of people and care for our planet is central to the way we think and act.

With sustainability in mind, Basis Bay has developed a holistic approach to Green IT as a corporate philosophy engaging all stakeholders. This comprehensive framework includes enabling IT solutions that ensures efficiency and caring for an organisation throughout their lifecycles in a way that assures resources are utilised and appreciated with minimum wastage and impact to the environment.

Our solutions in themselves have been green for decades and we make it a commitment to constantly look for the best ways to provide sustainable IT solutions from designing, sourcing, and usage.

Organisations should be incentivised and encouraged to procure services and products from organisations "like ours" that have green offerings or truly adopt green practices. Keep in mind such offerings will eventually (if not already) cost less to procure as we create an efficient sustainable business ecosystem that is kinder to the environment.

Mark Billington
Regional Director, Greater China and South-east Asia

BUSINESSES should proactively find ways to minimise the environmental impact at every part of their operation, especially around non-essential plastic packaging and single-use plastics, which can significantly reduce the volume of plastic waste that might end up in the oceans.

Reducing plastic pollution effectively requires solutions that are both supply and demand-led - curbing the reliance on plastics while encouraging consumers to explore more environmentally-friendly options. In Singapore, these efforts have been largely led by the private sector. To drive a more powerful shift in mindset and behaviour, the government can consider introducing a tax or a gradually-increasing cap on the use of plastics.

In addition, they can also incentivise businesses to adopt technological solutions and reward organisational efforts towards a non-plastic and environmentally sustainable future.

Lim Soon Hock
Managing Director

CONSUMERS today are overly dependent on plastics for their convenience. That it fits nicely with the prevalent throwaway mentality appeals to many. It will take a long time to change this over-dependency.

Businesses can do more to change this ingrained habit and tackle this plastic scourge by recycling more and using more bio-degenerating matters. Tackling this problem at source is not only vital but urgent to rein in the problem of marine debris, particularly plastic pollution in the oceans.

The criticality of the problem warrants both incentives and dis-incentives. The government may now want to consider imposing a plastics tax. Both businesses and consumers should be taxed for the use of plastics. However, on the flip side, when businesses and consumers recycle, tax credits can be given to offset the tax.

In the meantime, government, businesses and civic groups should continue collaboratively to intensify public education to create greater awareness of the looming plastic scourge, to reduce the use of plastics and to promote recycling.

Maren Schweizer
Schweizer World Pte Ltd

IT'S mainly about encouraging businesses to innovate in their supply chain. By doing so, it's important to take into account the overall CO2 point balance while working on the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Interconnected supply chains call for collaboration across businesses and public-private sectors. Technology platforms come into play, for instance reusable packaging logistics.

I believe in incentive-based policies, such as long-term low interest loans. They have been significant for several decades to finance investments into our environmental initiatives , eg reusable packaging, reduction of water usage, thermal power plant.

Laletha Nithiyanandan
Managing Director
Behavioural Consulting Group

BUSINESS leaders need to embrace a circular economy within their organisations to reduce waste and allow for better use of resources. We have a "throw away" culture and not much thought is given to what happens after a product is consumed.

Many consumers throw away because there are not enough safe or practical options available to repair, reuse, recycle or upcycle.

Governments need to start at the source and take responsibility for the amount of waste produced within their own countries. We know taxes and incentives can push organisations to redesign and produce responsibly at source. The bigger question is why have governments allowed it to become such a huge problem in the first place?

David Leong
Managing Director
PeopleWorldwide Consulting Pte Ltd.

PLASTICS pollution lies in the profligate use of the synthetic polymer and despite its usefulness, they are not biodegradable as these are unnatural products not found in nature with no bacteria available to decompose them.

They pollute the environment at a staggering rate and are killing wildlife. Over time, plastics choke our whole global eco-system until certain bacteria strains can be cultivated and bred to decompose these plastic.

The private sector alone cannot combat such uses. It has to be a global concerted effort by governments to cease the production and use of such non bio-degradable polymer and to replace with biodegradable substitutes. Government can start to tax the use of avoidable plastics to discourage usage and to shift consumers' behaviors to use less plastics to more sustainable materials.

Zaheer K Merchant
Regional Director (Singapore & Europe)
QI Group of Companies

NO doubt each private sector entity is taking steps to reduce plastic waste. We as an organisation have completely removed single-use plastics as an office policy, and moved to sustainable and recyclable product packaging.

The critical issue is education, awareness and creating consciousness throughout organisations. The concept of a "circular economy" and even reverse logistics where transit is used both ways to reduce pollutants and maximise sustainability, is fast becoming the approach to be adopted. Private sector collaborations in the form of shared understandings, resources and partnerships like ZeroWaste SG or initiatives led by the Singapore Environment Council will ensure the problem is combated but in a sustainable and effective manner.

Annie Yap
AYP Group

REDUCING pollution in the ocean is a tricky issue as it requires the full coordinated effort from various interest groups, from plastic makers to recyclers, companies and consumers.

Product packaging should be re-evaluated either by reducing plastic usage or changing to an alternative material without affecting the product application. Using JuzTalent, our in-house HRIS solution as an example, it is created to improve the scalability of HR administrative tasks and concurrently eliminate paper usage.

This issue requires both a bottom-up and top-down approach. Governments should impose heavy fines on companies/recyclers that deposit waste material into the ocean. At the same time, with the power of social media, unsightly images of sea animals being suffocated by plastics should be widely shared. This will create more awareness and concern in consumers and hopefully result in fewer purchases in single-use plastic products or of unfriendly environmentally-unfriendly brands.

Ling Fang
SVP, Asia-Pacific

RECYCLING and reducing the environmental impact is a global challenge and it starts from within the organisation. At Alstom, we strive to reduce energy intensity through ongoing energy action plans and recycle 88 per cent of our waste; we also monitor strictly our air and water emissions.

This also translates to our solutions for sustainable transport. Alstom's comprehensive eco-design policy prioritises using clean, recyclable, and natural materials, reducing noise and vibrations as well as air emissions, and handling the end-of-life management of products - particularly in maintenance activities. The environmental impact of these vehicles is minimised through increased energy efficiency achieved by the use of innovations such as electrical braking, sensor-based air-conditioning, and non-hazardous materials for construction. It is in these initiatives and innovations that we strive to provide a greener environment.

Chia Ngiang Hong
Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)

WATER is an important precious natural resource. A multi–prong approach is necessary to address the declining quality of our oceans and environmental contamination from industrial and domestic sources has serious implications.

Among the sources of marine pollution, plastic debris is one of the most common but also challenging to manage. To curb plastic pollution, apart from possible direct regulation through legislation, adoption of innovative water treatment technologies and proper treatment / recycling of hazardous waste is essential. Some form of economic incentives to influence behavioural change will also help.

The real estate industry can play a key role in combating marine pollution. Developers can ensure that their projects give priority to efficient water and waste management with a focus on the health and well-being of occupants and adoption of eco-friendly practices to reduce carbon footprint. Developers can join hands with the government and industry partners to create greater public awareness, encourage public participation in clean-up campaigns, and collectively identify pollution sources and implement remedial measures.