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Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Singapore Packaging Agreement 10th Anniversary Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner on 5 Jun 2017

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Introduction

 

1     Good evening.  It gives me great pleasure to join you all here this evening to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Singapore Packaging Agreement (or SPA in short).  Today, the 5th of June, is also World Environment Day – a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote worldwide environmental awareness and empower all of us to do something positive for the environment.

 

2     Therefore, it is especially meaningful that, today, we are also celebrating a significant milestone of the SPA, a waste reduction initiative which was launched on this very same day 10 years ago.   On 5th June 2007, 32 organisations came together to sign the SPA and made the commitment to reduce packaging waste, which makes up about one-third, by weight, of domestic waste disposed of.  Since then, the SPA has been contributing to our vision of moving towards a Zero Waste Nation under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 (or SSB) by encouraging businesses to reduce their consumption of packaging resources, as well as reuse and recycle packaging waste.  You probably would have noticed that Eco Eva, one of the five mascots under the Sustainable Singapore Movement, representing the SSB pillar of “Towards a Zero Waste Nation”, is with us today.  She is here in support of the SPA, and to remind us of our need to cherish our resources, consume less and adopt sustainable practices to maintain a good living environment for our future generations to enjoy.  Each and every one of us has a role to play in reducing packaging waste and we can do so, for example, by supporting products with less packaging.  The Logo for Products with Reduced Packaging (or LPRP in short) that will be launched this evening, will, in the near future, help consumers to identify products that have undergone packaging reduction and allow them to make more informed choices in their purchases.

 

3     Over the past decade, the SPA has spurred many businesses to review their packaging designs and practices in order to reduce waste and be more resource-efficient in their use of materials.  The SPA has also facilitated the review process by providing signatories with the platform to share their experiences and exchange ideas.  Many companies have cut their packaging usage and at the same time, reaped the benefits from improvements to their bottom lines.  To date, close to 200 organisations have become signatories of the SPA and have cumulatively reduced close to 39,000 tonnes of packaging waste, which resulted cost savings of about $93 million.

 

SPA Awards 2017 and SPA 10th Anniversary Awards

 

4     This evening, we want to not only recognise the signatories for their accomplishments in packaging waste reduction over the past 12 months, but also celebrate their achievements and contributions over the last 10 years.

 

5     To mark the 10th Anniversary of the SPA, selected signatories will be receiving the 10th Anniversary Special Achievement Award in recognition of their consistent and outstanding performances in reducing packaging waste over the past decade, or the 10th Anniversary Outreach Award for being active champions of the SPA and its objectives.

 

6     In particular, I would like to highlight the three recipients of the 10th Anniversary Special Achievement Award, namely Nestlé Singapore (Pte) Ltd, Tetra Pak Jurong Pte Ltd and Sunfresh Singapore Pte Ltd.  Nestlé Singapore has been undertaking new projects every year since the inception of the SPA, and has cumulatively avoided close to 3,000 tonnes of packaging waste.  Nestlé has implemented wide-ranging measures spanning from making changes to their packaging designs for products under their household name MILO®, to optimising their production practices and operations so that less packaging waste is eventually disposed of.

 

7     Tetra Pak Jurong Pte Ltd has cumulatively reduced about 15,000 tonnes of packaging waste over the past decade through initiatives such as installing equipment within their premises to reuse their packaging waste and improving their production processes to reduce material wastage.  This is a significant achievement.

 

8     Such efforts are not just restricted to multinational corporations; Sunfresh Singapore Pte Ltd, a local small and medium enterprise established in 1981 and one of the pioneer signatories of the SPA, stood out among the SMEs for its tenacity in looking for ways to reduce packaging waste year after year.  They have reviewed their use of packaging across the supply chain from logistics to production of finished products and made positive changes to avoid waste.

 

9     Sunfresh Singapore’s example has proven that even smaller companies with less resources are able to contribute to packaging waste reduction and enjoy cost savings, if only they would take that first step to challenge the status quo.

 

10     Please join me in giving all our award recipients a round of applause.  I congratulate them for their achievements.

 

Mandatory Requirements for More Sustainable Packaging Waste Management

 

11     While the efforts of businesses to reduce packaging waste under the SPA programme have been laudable, the amount of packaging waste reduced still remains low compared to the total amount of packaging waste disposed of in Singapore.

 

12     Therefore, at last year’s awards ceremony, I mentioned that mandatory requirements would be introduced for packaging waste management.  We plan to start, by 2021, with mandatory reporting of packaging information and packaging waste reduction plans by businesses that place packaging on the consumer market.  The objectives are to allow businesses to gain greater awareness of the amount of packaging they are placing on the market and provide the impetus for them to develop ways to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging.

 

13     NEA will be holding a series of stakeholder engagement sessions in the second half of this year to flesh out the detailed implementation framework for the mandatory reporting requirement.  I strongly encourage your participation in this round of consultations as your inputs will be very important and valuable in determining how the reporting requirements will be implemented, and which companies will be affected.  With these new mandatory measures, we hope to work towards more sustainable packaging waste management and move closer to the SSB visions of “A Leading Green Economy” and moving “Towards a Zero Waste Nation”.

 

Conclusion

 

14     Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SPA Governing Board for co-organising this event together with NEA, and for their continued and strong support of the SPA over the past 10 years.  The SPA would not have come so far, and achieve as much as it did, without their leadership and active role in the programme.

 

15     Have an enjoyable dinner and I wish you all a pleasant evening.  Thank you.

 

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