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sustainable businesses

Sustainability Reporting

Singapore Sustainability Reporting Award: CDL’s Integrated Sustainability Report 2017

In September this year, the Singapore Institute of Directors held the inaugural Singapore Sustainability Reporting Awards (SSRA) which aims to encourage and recognise excellence in sustainability reporting among Singapore listed companies. Of all the participants, CDL was honoured for producing the best sustainability report for established reporters or firms that have long been producing reports on sustainability.

Here are some highlights of the sustainability actions that CDL has reported in their Integrated Sustainability Report 2017: 

My TreeHouse

Built using eco-friendly and recycled materials, My Tree House boasts an eco-centric book collection, interactive green features and programmes which enable children to learn and discover about our natural environment, especially during their formative years. The library is a collaboration between the National Library Board (NLB) and CDL. There are about 45,000 books in this library, a third of which are green-themed covering on animals, plants, nature, water, weather, environment, recycling, and climate change.

My TreeHouse is located at the Central Public Library located within the National Library Building. In 2016, it received a visitorship of over 312,500.

Engaging Tenants on Resource Efficiency

Tenant electricity usage accounts for close to 50% of electricity consumption in CDL’s office and retail buildings. To support efforts in reducing energy consumption and environmental footprint, CDL implemented the CDL Green Lease Partnership Programme in 2014.

A digital energy monitoring portal was jointly developed with Tuas Power to enable tenants to track and better manage their energy usage. In addition to the “green fit-out” guide issued to all tenants, CDL created a dedicated team of CDL Green Lease Ambassadors to guide tenants on how they can create more environmentally-friendly premises by adopting sustainable practices, designs, materials, fittings, equipment, and lighting fixtures. The Ambassadors also helped identify energy-saving opportunities to lower tenants’ operating costs.

As of end 2016, more than 95% of  CDL’s tenants have pledged their commitment to the CDL Green Lease Partnership Programme by signing a Green Lease Memorandum of Understanding as part of lease renewal.

Find out more about the green lease and tenant agreement here!

Twin Chute Pneumatic Waste Collection System

This is an eco-friendly waste management system that utilises air suction to convey general waste and recyclable waste separately. The entire refuse disposal and removal process is clean, odourless and vector-free, and requires less manpower to manage, reducing costs while encouraging recycling.

CDL Singapore Sculpture Award

Themed “Towards Zero Waste!”, the 6th edition of this biennial award draws inspiration from the circular economy and Singapore’s vision of becoming a zero waste nation by 2030. The competition invites participants to design sculptures with residual materials from the construction of the Singapore Sustainability Academy.

Through the theme of the Award, CDL hopes to shift mindsets and change behaviour from  a linear “take-make-dispose” model to a more circular one, in which resources are circulated back into the economy and used for as long as possible

 

Besides the aforementioned actions and initiatives that were taken by CDL, their integrated Sustainability Report has more details about the company’s environmental commitment and actions. Read it here!

Green Talk

Interview with People’s Movement to Stop Haze

People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM Haze) is a non-profit organisation which focuses on outreach, research and advocacy haze-related concerns. Its mission is to “drive a global movement to stop the haze by empowering the community with the knowledge, means and values to do so”. This is achieved by steering consumption patterns towards sustainable palm oil and paper as well as assisting Indonesian and Malaysian farmers to create a sustainable livelihood.

We had the opportunity to talk to Co-founder, Tan Yi Han, to find out more about the organisation.

 

TSP: What inspired you to start People’s Movement to Stop Haze?

PM Haze: After experiencing haze since I was in Secondary 1, I felt frustrated why the haze had not been solved after so many years. In 2013, I decided to see for myself who was burning and volunteered with Global Environment Centre, a Malaysia-based organisation, which was tackling the root causes of haze.

When the record-breaking 2013 haze hit, we went to ground zero, where we saw areas that were burnt out as far as the eye could see. At one such location, we spoke to local farmers who shared that they had lost all their crops when the fire spread in from neighbouring land. Despite the tragedy that had befallen them, as we interviewed them, they still served us coffee and nuts. Touched by their simple kindness, I vowed to do what I could to prevent their suffering from fires and haze. After I came back to Singapore, I spoke with friends about trying to do something from Singapore to stop haze. Thankfully, some of my friends believed in me and together we formed People’s Movement to Stop Haze.

 

TSP: Can you tell us a few challenges you faced when carrying out activities for People’s Movement to Stop Haze?

PM Haze: Over the course of these two years, we have spoken to about a hundred eateries, from small hawker centre stalls to large eatery chains. Most of them use palm oil, but even after we shared the issue with them, many were not inclined to switch to sustainable palm oil. They cited barriers such as cost, preference for certain oil or supplier as well as convenience in getting the oil as part of a package of dry goods from a wholesaler. Thankfully, we managed to reach out to some eateries whose management were already environmentally conscious, and so once they learnt about sustainable palm oil, they switched within one or two weeks. It was very encouraging.

 

TSP: Since the launch of People’s Movement to Stop Haze, what is the general response from the public?

PM Haze: We are fortunate that the haze problem is one that people in Singapore relate to, so we do get lots of opportunities to give talks or set up roadshow booths. We also do get a steady stream of volunteers of about 1 or 2 a month. Of course, when there is no haze, it is hard to get mass support for our campaigns, so we are looking to broaden our message to stay relevant.

 

TSP: Can you share with us a few statistics on the impact of People’s Movement to Stop Haze over the years?

PM Haze: In 2015, we came up with a PSI based on hourly-PM2.5 readings, which were more accurate than the 24-hour average PM2.5 that the official PSI readings used. As a result, we had a flood of 30,000 visits in less than a month (27 Sept – 1 Oct 2015). Together with media and civic pressure, the government eventually created bands for their hourly-PM2.5 readings to allow people to interpret the hourly-PM2.5 readings more easily.

This year we have gotten 3 eateries to use sustainable palm oil as a direct result of our outreach. We have also supported youth advocates to do outreach campaigns in SIM and nationwide.

 

TSP: For those who are interested in getting involved with People’s Movement to Stop Haze, can you share 2 to 3 quick and easy steps to get started?

PM Haze: Start by learning about this complex and yet fascinating issue through following us on Facebook and signing up for our monthly newsletter via pmhaze.org . If you’re keen to join us in taking action, you can sign up as a volunteer at pmhaze.org/volunteer or look out for our ad-hoc volunteering opportunities via our Facebook or newsletter.

 

TSP: How has the government been contributing to your organisation’s aim to combat the haze issue?

PM Haze: The government has been supportive in terms of giving verbal encouragement for sustainable palm oil and complimenting the work that we do. We also have frequent closed-door meetings to exchange knowledge and ideas.

 

TSP: What are some of your future plans for the People’s Movement to Stop Haze? 

PM Haze: Next year we will be building on our existing work on sustainable palm oil but also moving into the field of responsible finance, where Singapore can play an even bigger role. Responsible finance at its minimum means avoiding lending or investing money to companies which engage in unethical and unsustainable practices. We hope to work with other organisations to raise public awareness and demand for responsible finance and move the financial institutions in Singapore further along this road.

Sustainable Businesses

Ecosia: The Search Engine That Plants Trees

Imagine being able to help to restore a forest, just by searching something on the Internet. How is that even possible?

Well, look no further! The answer is Ecosia – a search engine that plants trees with its advertisement revenue. Every month, Ecosia donates at least 80% of their profits to tree planting programmes. With a mission to plant 1 billion trees by 2020, we delve further into how this search engine works and what you can do to help them achieve their mission.

 

How does it work?

All it takes to get started is by searching anything you want on their search engine. All of Ecosia’s search results are powered by Bing which is US second largest search engine owned by Microsoft.

The first few results that you obtain which are indicated “Ad” are the advertisements which help Ecosia generate revenue. By clicking on those results indicated with “Ad”, you can help to increase Ecosia’s revenue!

How many trees have I planted?

On the top right-hand corner, you will notice a tree counter. The tree counter indicates the number of searches that you have performed with Ecosia. Since not every user will click on an advertisement, Ecosia earns an average of 0.5 EUR cents per search. Hence, it takes an average of 45 web searches to fund the planting of a tree as it costs about 0.22 EUR cents to plant one tree!

Where are the trees being planted?

Ecosia looks to support projects in the 25 most threatened forest ecosystems, otherwise defined as biodiversity hotspots. To classify as one, a region must meet the following conditions:

  1. At least 1,500 species of vascular plants (>0.5% of the world’s total) are endemic
  2. At least 70% of the original natural vegetation has been lost

Hence, through this approach, Ecosia has identified 35 biodiversity hotspots as locations where it wants to plant trees. A few examples of these regions are Indonesia, Tanzania, Madagascar and Peru. Read more about the specific tree projects here!

How transparent are they?

Every month, Ecosia will issue a financial report detailing their total income for the month and the amount used to invest into their tree planting efforts (As shown below)

They also provide information about the payment for various tree planting projects and the number of trees that are being planted.

What is the current impact of Ecosia?

As of November 2017, Ecosia has planted over 15 million trees!

What can I do?

It is simple! Just make Ecosia your default search engine! Find out how to do so here.

Sustainable Businesses

Nespresso’s Sustainability Actions

Without a doubt, all of us know Nespresso for its spokesperson, George Clooney. But besides their unique use of capsule and aromatic coffee, there are a few things that Nespresso is doing in regards to sustainability that you probably didn’t know of:

1. Closing the loop

Did you know that aluminium is one of the natural resources that can be recycled infinitely? It also provides the best protection against oxygen, light and humidity which causes it to be the best material to be used for Nespresso’s capsules. Aluminium requires up to 95% less energy to recycle than to produce primary metals. Since it is 100% recyclable, these capsules can be given a second life and transformed into drink cans, bicycles or computers. Nespresso collects back these capsules and you can find the collection points here!

2. Recycling has never been so convenient!

So if you find it a hassle to travel down to the stores to recycle your aluminium capsules, fret not, as there is another alternative. You can fill up their recycling bag with the used capsules and hand it to the delivery man on your next order. And did we mention? The recycling bag is free!

3. Paying it forward

This year, Nespresso embarked on a partnership with The Food Bank Singapore to encourage coffee lovers to pay it forward by recycling their used Nespresso capsules. Each time you recycle your used capsules, you are providing approximately one meal to a person in need.

4. Save every resource

So what happens to your capsules after use? Well, the aluminium capsules would be recycled while the used coffee grounds are sent to a local farm (Quan Fa Organic Farm) as compost for vegetable farming. The use of coffee grounds improves drainage, aerates the soil and acts as a natural pest repellent.

 

To find out about other actions Nespresso is taking in terms of sustainability, click here!

Green Talk

Interview with Foodbank Singapore

Would you have expected Singaporeans to generate a total of 791,000 tonnes food waste? That’s almost equivalent to 108 full load double-decker buses! Despite being a little red dot, we are guilty of contributing to high level of food wastage with 77% of Singaporeans regularly waste food at home. Over the past 10 years, food wastage has increased by about 40%. On the other spectrum, 1 in 10 Singaporeans is food insecure which creates a gap in food distribution.

Foodbank Singapore, a registered charity, aims to bridge the gap in the market by collecting surplus food in the market and providing it to organisations and people in need of food.

We had an interview with Foodbank Singapore’s Co-founder, Nichol Ng.

TSP: What inspired you to start Foodbank?

As our co-founders are in the food business, we realised that a lot of surplus food was being thrown away because suppliers/wholesalers did not have an avenue to donate them. At the same time, we felt that we should not be throwing any surplus food away when there are still people in need of food. This was when our co-founders decided to start The Food Bank Singapore to try and bridge this gap. Watch this video to find out more!

TSP: Can you tell us a few challenges you faced when carrying out activities for Foodbank? 

In the past year, we have faced an influx of donations and manpower was starting to be a problem. Besides hiring more people, we also tried to engage our volunteers even more and incorporated technology to ease the burdens off our team.

One major challenge we have been facing since the start is the lack of donations from supermarkets, even though we are finally starting to work with one major supermarket chain. We hope that companies are more open to donating their surplus food and not just conveniently dump them away.

TSP: Since the launch of Foodbank, what is the general response from the public?

The public has slowly warmed up to the idea of the food bank since we spend a lot of time on advocacy work and building up a stronger volunteer pool. Food companies and businesses have also strengthened their support quite a fair bit since 2012. Although no one has yet to take a firm stand of donating all their excess, at least more companies are open to the idea. Having said that, we are far from what we should be doing.

TSP: Can you share with us a few statistics on the impact of Foodbank over the years?

 

TSP: For those who are interested in getting involved with Foodbank, can you share 2 to 3 quick and easy steps to get started?

You can find out more about getting involved at http://www.foodbank.sg/index.php/get-involved.

TSP: What do you think should be done by the government to combat the issue of food wastage?

Along with incentives for other forms of recycling, they should really be looking at incentives to encourage recycling. Another way is to penalise for people who throw or incinerate. In general, recycling has to make commercial sense to businesses as well.

They need to start realising that food is also a precious commodity we have learnt to take for granted but have not accorded as much respect and attention like water, paper and plastic.

TSP: What are some of your future plans for the Foodbank? 

In 2018, we plan to engage even more food companies and corporates. At the grassroots level, we plan to do more advocacy as well. For more on our activities, check out http://www.foodbank.sg/index.php/programmes-events.

 

Green Talk

Interview with Eugene Tay for BYO Singapore Campaign

Eugene Tay is the Executive Director of Zero Waste SG, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to helping Singapore eliminate the concept of waste, and accelerate the shift towards zero waste and the circular economy.

This September, they launched a new campaign that took Singapore by storm – The BYO Singapore Campaign. The campaign offers incentives customers who practice the concept of “bringing your own” and aims to encourage more Singaporeans to practice this habit through incentives. As of now, there are about 21 vendors who are participating in this initiative, with 234 outlets spread across Singapore.

We talked to Eugene to find out more about this campaign, the challenges faced and its future.

TSP: What inspired you to start the BYO Singapore campaign?

Eugene Tay: Single-use plastic disposables pose a serious environmental problem around the world. In Singapore, the most common type of waste disposed of is plastic waste and the recycling rate for plastics has remained low over the past 13 years. So we can’t depend on plastic recycling and have to go upstream and reduce plastic disposables at source. One way is to encourage consumers to bring their own reusables with incentives provided by retailers.

TSP: Can you tell us a few challenges you faced when launching the BYO Singapore campaign? 

Eugene Tay: Majority of the retailers did not respond to or rejected our recruitment for the BYO campaign via emails or direct visits to stores. Some of them cite additional operating costs if they provided incentives, or that there are some challenges in the operations when they have to use the reusables provided by customers.

TSP: Since the launch of the campaign, what response have you received from the public? Are they generally supportive of this campaign?

Eugene Tay: The response from the public has been positive and they like the idea of getting incentives when they BYO. However, we have to see if this actually translates into more consumers BYOing during the campaign.

TSP: For those who are interested in getting involved with the BYO Singapore campaign, can you share 2 to 3 quick and easy steps to get started?

Eugene Tay: Visit the BYO Singapore campaign website at http://www.byosingapore.com and find out the retailers providing incentives and their locations. Visit the retail outlets with your reusables and start to BYO. It’s that simple!

TSP: What is the main goal for BYO Singapore campaign and what actions will be taken to achieve that goal?

Eugene Tay: The BYO Singapore campaign would provide information, incentives and resources to encourage people to bring their own reusables and reduce plastic disposables. Under the campaign, retailers would offer incentives to customers who bring their own reusable bags, bottles or containers. The main campaign goal is to sign up 500 retail outlets and reduce 1,000,000 pieces of disposables in 2017.

The BYO Singapore campaign would reach out to residents in the community, and also to working professionals through roadshows in the central business district and other business hubs. In addition, Zero Waste SG would be providing educational talks to companies and providing office starter kits (electronic copy) that include resources such as posters on BYO, advice on cleaning facilities in the pantry, and how to organise a BYO Day in the office.

TSP: What do you think the Singapore government can do to combat the issue of plastic waste?

Eugene Tay: Our recommendations to the government on reducing plastic disposables can be found here and here. 

TSP: Can you share with us 2 to 3 examples on how you lead a plastic-free life?

Eugene Tay: I bring my own bottle and bag regularly for my takeaway drinks and groceries. If I know that I’m buying takeaway food or going for an event buffet that serves plastic disposables, I would try to bring my usable container and utensils.

 

The BYO Singapore Campaign is a huge leap towards the encouragement of Singaporeans to reduce their plastic consumption. With the issue of plastic waste gaining more attention worldwide due to its impact and gravity, it is encouraging to witness the efforts taken to combat this issue and hopefully, more Singaporeans will start taking action and reduce their plastic waste by BYOing!

 

Sustainability Reporting

3 Things To Know About Sustainability Reporting

From financial year ending 31 December 2017 onwards, all public listed companies on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) are required to issue a Sustainability Report on a “comply or explain” basis. This new requirement undeniably creates greater transparency towards companies’ sustainability actions and also increase awareness among stakeholders.

But as readers, what does this mean? How will it benefit us and do we have the basic knowledge to understand these reports? Well, here are 3 essential points you need to know about Sustainability Reporting!

1. It is more than the environment

It is normal to expect that a Sustainability Report will only cover topics relating to environmental conservation efforts of companies. However, there is so much more to that!

For sustainability reporting, the word “sustainable” is being regarded as a holistic definition and covers economic, environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors. One should take note that ESG issues are topics that pose risks and opportunities to a business, hence excluding charitable and philanthropy activities.

Examples of social issues could be the use of child labour in a company’s operations or the company’s actions to ensure that occupational health and safety for its workers.

2. It’s all about the frameworks

All Sustainability Reports require the use of a certain reporting framework as a guideline for reporting and disclosure. The framework chosen should be suited to the company’s industry and business model. There are numerous frameworks to choose from, such as CDP, DJSI, GRI, GRESB, SASB.

One of the more popular frameworks used is the GRI framework, with 74% of the world’s largest corporation using it as a basis for their Sustainability Report. GRI is an international independent organisation which helps businesses understand and communicate their impact on sustainability issues.

Under the GRI framework, there are two categories of standards – universal and topic specific. Universal standards cover the foundation, general disclosures and management approach. This includes the reporting principles, materiality matrix, the disclosure of operations or scale of organisation and the management actions towards certain material issues.

Topic specific standards are more focused towards the economic, environmental and social topics. Within the ESG umbrella, there are smaller topics that can be disclosed by a company. For example, under the environmental (GRI 300) topic, possible issues could be materials (GRI 301), energy (GRI 302) or water (GRI 303).

3. The 3Ps – Policy, Practice and Performance

Firstly, each company is required to identify the ESG issues that are regarded material to them. The materiality is assessed based on a various number of indicators, but most importantly, taking into the account of stakeholders’ interest.

After which, for each material issue, the company would have to set out a policy, elaborate on the company’s practice and their related performance and target. For example, by having a no deforestation policy, the company ensure that no forest is being cleared for development purposes. They will report their performance in terms of the hectare of the deforested area and their target in 5 years time.

The 3Ps will form the general content of the Sustainability Report and allow the reader to evaluate whether the company is performing as it intended to and its current status.

 

To learn more about SGX’s sustainability reporting guide, click here.

 

Sustainable Businesses Sustainable Living

IKEA’s Sustainable Living Home Tour

When we say “IKEA”, the first word that comes to everyone’s mind is – Meatballs! Yes, IKEA is known for introducing Swedish food (our favourite!) and interior design to Singapore.

But do you know, IKEA is also one of the top leaders in driving sustainability efforts? By 2020, the IKEA group aims to run its entire business on renewable energy and produce as much renewable energy as it consumes! Within Singapore, IKEA has a countless number of initiatives to show their commitment towards sustainability such as being MSC certified, recycling waste to biofuel and banning the sale of plastic bags.

IKEA recently launched their Sustainable Living Home Tour, which allows the public to experience how a family living in a 55 square room apartment can take small actions towards sustainable living. Our team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in the tour. Here are some of the products that have come to our attention as both sustainable and stylish!

1. Joxtorp 

So on the first glance, you might think this is a normal lamp shade made out of polyester or steel. But when you take a closer look, it is actually made out of paper! At least 80% of this product is made of paper and it comes in other colours such as orange.

A complementary item that can match this lamp shade is a LED light bulb which you can also find in IKEA. Since 2016, all light bulbs being sold at IKEA are LED use up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs and can last up to 20 years!

2. Variera/Utrusta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our favourite items would have to be the Variera/Utrusta, which is a waste sorting bins for the cabinet. As mentioned by the IKEA staff, 9 out of 10 households do not sort their waste and we believe these bins will encourage sorting and also make it easier for the household. Also, these bins are made of recycled polypropylene plastic!

3. Ärenpris 

Look at fluffy pillow! Would you have guessed that they are made out of recycled plastic? The filling in these pillows from 100% recycled PET bottles and they feel the same as other pillows (Trust us, we tried it out). What a meaningful innovation!

4. Pahl

For those of you who have children, this is probably one of the most thoughtful furniture designed by IKEA. This desk allows you to adjust its height to three different levels, with the maximum height being 72cm. So, instead of having to buy a new desk everytime your child grows taller, you now have a desk that grows with your child!

 

Besides all these products above, IKEA has a wide variety of other products which are designed with sustainability in mind. Share with us which of their products is your favourite and why!