In today’s environmentally conscious climate, going green is no longer about “looking good”. In Singapore alone, we’ve made substantial strides over the last few years: all Singapore-listed companies are now required to do sustainability reporting, and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources is making packaging waste reporting and e-waste management mandatory by 2020. When doing business with a multinational company, your corporate social responsibility record matters – the younger generation is looking for jobs that are meaningful, so your sustainability stance impacts your talent pool.
The reality is that nowadays being green is the bare minimum. When I started Greenpac 16 years ago, everyone said that packaging was a sunset industry. But to me, packaging was such a critical and overlooked sector because it generates the most waste. Today, our clients span the semiconductor, pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors.
“Green innovation isn’t about rocket science; practicality is what matters”
The most common misconception is that going green is more expensive and inconvenient, so I’ve always made it a point to demonstrate how it can actually achieve savings – be it material, manpower or logistical costs. Green innovation isn’t about rocket science; practicality is what matters.
The Scandinavians have been at the forefront of the green movement, but China is emerging as a global leader: they have invested billions in clean energy and launched a carbon trading market to help reduce emissions. The World Economic Forum is also pushing for a circular economy. That said, green businesses are just like any other businesses. The same principles apply – your value proposition must ultimately be competitive. There’s been lots of debate around the world about banning plastic bags and straws. I think we shouldn’t get bogged down by too many considerations. We should just make it happen and educate the public. People are adaptable.
When Greenpac first started, we were the only green packaging company here. Now, with waste reporting regulations, there are 15 or 16 players. This is the scale and speed of the impact of governmental policies on catalysing change. Positive reinforcements can also be encouraging, from tax breaks to recognising companies’ efforts to go green.
Being green can seem like such a big and intimidating concept. But fundamentally, it’s about working with what we have and not using the next generation’s resources to satisfy our current greed.
Illustrations by Studio Takeuma
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine