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Beyond branding: sustainable practices get real for businesses

The Business Times by ELYSSA TAN

Singapore

THE green movement among corporates here appears to have shifted from branding exercise to action driven path, documented by concrete initiatives, with some spreading the message to the community as well.

Henkel Singapore, besides having all their Singapore employees certified as sustainability ambassadors since 2017, is also the first company to have all employees make their pledge for climate action. These ambassadors participate in on-the-ground efforts such as school projects to educate students on sustainability.

"Since 2016, Henkel's sustainability ambassadors have been visiting preschools every year on World Water Day to teach young children simple tips to be sustainable at home," said Thomas Holenia, president of Henkel Singapore and managing director of Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore. "This year, Henkel has expanded our programme with Little Footprints Preschool beyond the classroom with the sponsorship of the 'Be a Bucket Filler' journal to encourage students to put into practice what they have learnt."

At Citi Singapore, a key highlight of its sustainable initiatives includes the completion of the first harvest at the Edible Rooftop Garden located at their Changi office on April 27, 2018. The fresh produce was donated to Lions Home for Elders and My Kind of Fridge, an initiative by the Tampines North Citizens' Consultative Committee, where empty fridges are placed in the lift lobby of a block of flats for residents in the area to donate food to their needy neighbours.

For OCBC employees, eliminating the use of plastic water bottles is one initiative. "Today, OCBC Bank serves water in 100 per cent biodegradable cups to our customers and visitors at our 48 branches," said Koh Ching Ching, head, Group Corporate Communications at OCBC Bank. "This simple act has saved an estimated 70,000 single-use plastic bottles since the start of the initiative and will save an estimated 5,000kg of plastics annually."

Organisations are also implementing other sustainable measures.

Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Singapore installed 8,038 solar panels on their factory rooftops, covering a total area of three Fifa football fields, and generating 2.523 million kWh of clean energy annually. This initiative enabled them to "save enough electricity to meet the annual power consumption of 600 four-room HDB households in Singapore", according to Mitchell Leow, APB's corporate affairs director.

"The solar panels can also bring about approximately 20 per cent of carbon emissions reduction over the 25-year period. We will avoid 742 tonnes of carbon dioxide during that same period," added Mr Leow.

Ricoh Singapore, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Standard Chartered Bank are also examples of organisations who have replaced their lighting to more efficient LED lights for their light-saving practices. The replacement of Citi's lighted signage logo at the top of Asia Square building with LEDs has enabled savings of approximately 15,000 kilowatt-hours every year, which translates to cost savings of around S$3,000 annually.