Happy New Year!

December 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Insights

green-future-wordleWishing all our readers a happy, healthy and green 2009!

We look forward to an exciting year ahead with some changes to our business, Green Future Solutions, and our blogs – AsiaIsGreen, Green Business Singapore and Zero Waste Singapore.

We will be upgrading our existing blogs to WordPress 2.7 and using the new Revolution Two theme over the next few weeks, so do expect some technical problems when visiting our sites.

In the next few weeks, we will also complete our corporate website for Green Future Solutions (finally) and articulate our vision of a Green Future, which is Bright, Enough, Local, Simple, Social and Whole.

In 2009, we also have plans to start another 2 blogs on climate change and LOHAS. So continue to visit our sites for updates and new posts. See you next year!

Wrap Your Christmas Gift With Cloth

December 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Insights

Do you want to wrap your Christmas gift in an eco-friendly way? Furoshiki is a Japanese traditional wrapping cloth which is used in a creative and stylish way to wrap gifts and things. Watch how you can wrap your Christmas gifts Furoshiki-style.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/2321507[/vimeo]

The wrapping cloth can be reused or can be part of the gift too. You can use a Furoshiki cloth or any suitable scarf, tablecloth or used fabric. This idea is from the RecycleNow website.

Welcome to Zero Waste Singapore

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Insights

Zero Waste Singapore is an online publication dedicated to help Singapore eliminate the concept of waste and move towards the goal of zero waste.

Our aim is to educate individuals, communities and businesses on Zero Waste and the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), and to help them take action through useful information, news, tips, products and resources.

We also support the work of the National Environment Agency, organisations, schools and businesses involved in waste minimisation.

Green Future Solutions

Zero Waste Singapore is published by Green Future Solutions, a sustainability consulting company that helps businesses and organisations address environmental challenges and identify green opportunities.

Green Future Solutions guides companies and organisations along their sustainability journey, and helps them on:

  • Strategy and Operations (Environmental Management; Eco-Office; Sustainability Strategy)
  • Research and Content (Sustainability Research; Green Content Development; Environmental Talks)
  • Marketing and Engagement (Social Media; Sustainability Marketing; Green Campaigns)

Our Team

Eugene Tay, Founder and Editor

Eugene is a consultant, editor and maven who likes to share his environmental knowledge with businesses and people so that they can learn, understand and take action towards our green future.

He is the Director of Green Future Solutions, a sustainability consulting company that helps businesses and organisations address environmental challenges and identify green opportunities.

Eugene previously worked for the National Environment Agency on waste minimisation and recycling, and taught ecotourism at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

He has a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Nanyang Technological University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering with a Minor in Technopreneurship from the National University of Singapore.

Our Services

Recycling Programme

We help companies and organisations introduce an effective and sustainable recycling programme in their office. The scope of the recycling programme includes:

  • Conduct a waste audit to establish baseline
  • Source for recycling collectors and bins
  • Educate staff on waste minimisation and recycling programme
  • Monitor and review the programme

Consultancy

We provide waste management and recycling consultancy to help companies and organisations in the following areas:

  • Conduct a site assessment of company’s waste, identify reduce, reuse and recycling opportunities, and find potential buyers and recyclers for the waste
  • Advise and prepare waste project proposals for government funding or tenders
  • Market and promote recycling services or recycled products
  • Educate and train staff on waste minimisation and recycling issues
  • Conduct research on waste statistics and issues

Our Manifesto

What a Waste

Waste represents inefficiency and the poor use of resources. Today’s products and packaging are made to become tomorrow’s waste, and the waste end up being burned or buried.

So much effort is spent on designing and making products, and precious energy and water resources are used up. Yet, the products become obsolete, unwanted and disposed by us as waste after use – wasting resources and creating pollution problems.

Zero Waste

In a finite world with increasing environmental problems, the generation of waste cannot continue as before. The end of waste will come through the concept of Zero Waste.

Zero Waste is a concept that challenges the old way of thinking about waste as something that has no value and to be thrown away. Zero Waste means eliminating and preventing waste, before using the waste generated as a resource to be used again or returned back to nature safely.

Our Vision

Our vision is a Zero Waste Singapore by 2040, with a 90% reduction in the waste disposed at our incineration plants and landfill, and a recycling rate of 80%.

To achieve this vision, the following steps are required:

1. Set a National Goal

A national goal of Zero Waste Singapore by 2040 sets the direction for the government, businesses and communities to plan ahead and implement strategies. The timeframe of 2040 also allows sufficient time to plan and change regulations and systems, and is achievable within a generation. The goal is a call to action and inspires everyone to work towards it.

The government can adopt the goal as an extension of the Singapore Green Plan’s 2012 target of 60% recycling rate. To achieve this goal of 90% reduction in waste disposed and 80% recycling rate, the total waste generation has to peak in 2015 and drop by 5% each year.

2. Design Out Waste

There is a need to encourage and promote green design that eliminates and prevents waste right from the design stage. Designers and manufacturers can design and make sustainable products and packaging that are durable and non-toxic, use less materials and resources during its entire life cycle, and can be reused, repaired or recycled.

To help companies embrace green design, there could be more government assistance and funding, matching services for industrial collaboration, and design workshops. Tertiary institutions with courses on product design should also include the concept of green design in their syllabus, and provide opportunities for students to work with companies.

3. Change the Rules

Regulations and systems need to be changed to discourage waste and incentivise waste minimisation and recycling. These regulations could include:

  • Extended Producer Responsibility – Producers have to take responsibility of their products from a life-cycle perspective.
  • Pay As You Throw – The waste generator pays for the amount of waste disposed.
  • Minimum Content Standards – There must be minimum recycled content for certain packaging and products.
  • Packaging Fee – An additional fee is charged for disposable packaging.
  • Green Procurement – Develop green procurement guidelines for businesses and the public sector to choose and buy green products and services.

4. Educate and Support

More education and publicity on zero waste, waste minimisation and recycling could be given to individuals, communities, schools, businesses and organisations. They should be aware of the various programmes that are available for them to reduce waste and practise recycling at home, school or work.

The government can also provide additional help to companies such as:

  • Develop services, facilities and infrastructure to improve the recycling of certain waste streams
  • Support companies that are reducing their waste and give them recognition
  • Provide advice for companies to conduct waste audits
  • Provide waste exchange services for companies

Our Site is Green

Green Web Hosting! Zero Waste Singapore is hosted by DreamHost.

Zero Waste Singapore is certified as a green website by a carbon neutral web hosting company. Click the logo above to learn why our site is green.

Write for Us

Zero Waste Singapore is looking for volunteer writers with experience in writing articles for blogs, magazines or newspapers.

If you’re passionate about the environment, can’t stand unnecessary waste, believe in reduce, reuse and recycle, and wish to see Singapore move towards Zero Waste, we would love to meet you and discuss how we can work together.

Email us or use this contact form.

What is Zero Waste?

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Insights

Zero Waste is a concept that challenges the old way of thinking about waste as something that has no value and to be thrown away. According to the Zero Waste Alliance:

Zero waste suggests that the entire concept of waste should be eliminated. Instead, waste should be thought of as a “residual product” or simply a “potential resource” to counter our basic acceptance of waste as a normal course of events. Opportunities such as reduced costs, increased profits, and reduced environmental impacts are found when returning these “residual products” or “resources” as food to either natural and industrial systems.

Zero Waste is a whole system approach that changes the way materials flow through society and ultimately results in no waste. It involves reducing consumption, minimising wastage, maximising recycling and composting, and ensuring that products and materials are designed to use less resources and made to be reused, recycled or biodegradable.

Nature is the best Zero Waste model. There is no waste in nature and by-products produced become resources for others or are assimilated harmlessly back to the surroundings.

 

The Zero Waste Hierarchy

The Zero Waste hierarchy refers to the following options for managing waste (in order of priority):

  1. Right in the beginning, waste should be prevented or reduced through redesign, reduced packaging and material use, and less consumption.
  2. Waste should be reused, repaired or refurbished for their original use or for another purpose.
  3. Waste should be recycled, reprocessed or composted into raw materials and useful resources.
  4. Waste should be recovered for their energy content through waste-to-energy or incineration facilities.
  5. After all of the above have been done, waste should be landfilled in a safe and sustainable manner.

 

Benefits of Zero Waste

The benefits of Zero Waste is that it helps to conserve our resources, reduce pollution, create jobs in waste management, reduce waste costs, increase the lifespan of our Semakau Landfill and incineration plants, and mitigate climate change.

Zero Waste is an extraordinary concept that can lead society, business, and cities to innovative breakthroughs that can save the environment, lives, and money. Through the lens of Zero Waste, an entirely new relationship between humans and systems is envisaged, the only one that can create more security and well being for people while reducing dramatically our impact upon planet earth. The excitement is on two levels: it provides a broad and far-reaching vision, and yet it is practical and applicable today. – Paul Hawken, environmentalist and author (from the publication, The End of Waste, by the Zero Waste New Zealand Trust)

 

Can We Achieve Zero Waste?

Zero is the goal but it is important not to be over-focused on the word ‘zero’. What matters is the concept behind Zero Waste. The road to Zero Waste is a long journey and it requires the efforts of individuals, communities, organisations, businesses and the government, working closely together towards Zero Waste. We invite all Singaporeans to support the vision of a Zero Waste Singapore.

Yes, We Can.

.

Design and Make Sustainable Products

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Reduce

Designers and manufacturers can design and make sustainable products and packaging that are durable and non-toxic, use less materials and resources during its entire life cycle, and can be reused, repaired or recycled.

To eliminate the concept of waste means to design things – products, packaging and systems – from the very beginning in the understanding that waste does not exist. – Jonathon Porritt, Capitalism as if the World Matters

Several sustainable design and product principles have been developed over the years and we look at some of them below:

  1. Biomimicry
  2. Cradle to Cradle
  3. Design for the Environment
  4. Life Cycle Assessment
  5. The Natural Step
  6. Other Resources

If you’re a designer or manufacturer, learn and adopt these sustainable principles in your product or packaging.

1. Biomimicry

Biomimicry is a new science and design principle developed by Janine Benyus, the author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, and the President of The Biomimicry Institute. Biomimicry is about learning from nature and studying what works in nature, and then imitating these best ideas, designs and processes to solve our problems.

Learn more from this 24-min TED video by Janine Benyus on the 12 sustainable design ideas from nature.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n77BfxnVlyc[/youtube]

You can also check out Ask Nature, a free open source database by The Biomimicry Institute, where architects, designers and engineers can search for nature’s best solutions and bio-inspired products, and network with the biomimicry community.

2. Cradle to Cradle

William McDonough and Michael Braungart wrote the book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which popularised the new cradle to cradle sustainable design principles. In their explanation:

Cradle to Cradle Design offers a clear alternative, a framework in which the safe, regenerative productivity of nature provides models for wholly positive human designs. Working from this perspective, we do not aim to be less bad. Instead, our design assignment is to create a world of interdependent natural and human systems powered by the sun in which safe, healthful materials flow in regenerative cycles, elegantly and equitably deployed for the benefit of all.

Within this framework, every material is designed to provide a wide spectrum of renewable assets. After a useful life as a healthful product, cradle-to-cradle materials are designed to replenish the earth with safe, fecund matter or to supply high quality technical resources for the next generation of products. When materials and products are created specifically for use within these closed-loop cycles – the flow of biological materials through nature’s nutrient cycles and the circulation of industrial materials from producer to customer to producer – businesses can realize both enormous short-term growth and enduring prosperity. As well, we can begin to re-design the very foundations of industry, creating systems that purify air, land and water; use current solar income and generate no toxic waste; use only safe, healthful, regenerative materials; and whose benefits enhance all life.

Learn more about Cradle to Cradle design from the MBDC website or William McDonough’s website. You can also learn about the wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle from this 20-min TED video by William McDonough.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoRjz8iTVoo[/youtube]

 

3. Design for the Environment

Design for the Environment (DfE) is simply an approach taken by companies to make business decisions that consider environmental impacts. Some call it eco-design or just green design.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) started the Design for the Environment Program in the 1990s and has been working with industries to integrate health and environmental considerations in business decisions. Learn more from the DfE website.

4. Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a methodological tool that applies life cycle thinking and assesses the environmental aspects and impacts associated with a product, process, or service. LCA estimates the environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the product life cycle, from raw material extraction, production, transportation, usage to disposal.

Learn more about LCA from the European Platform on LCA and the USEPA website, or about the Life Cycle Initiative from the UNEP website. If you wish to apply life cycle assessment for your product and need help, check with the Sustainable Manufacturing Centre at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech).

5. The Natural Step

The Natural Step Framework is developed by Dr Karl-Henrik Robèrt and is a strategic decision making and comprehensive planning model, based on systems thinking and using the four basic sustainability principles to guide individuals and organisations. The Four Principles of Sustainability state that:

To become a sustainable society we must…

1. eliminate our contribution to the progressive buildup of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust (for example, heavy metals and fossil fuels)

2. eliminate our contribution to the progressive buildup of chemicals and compounds produced by society (for example, dioxins, PCBs, and DDT )

3. eliminate our contribution to the progressive physical degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes (for example, over harvesting forests and paving over critical wildlife habitat); and

4. eliminate our contribution to conditions that undermine people’s capacity to meet their basic human needs (for example, unsafe working conditions and not enough pay to live on).

One company that adopted The Natural Step (TNS) was IKEA. In 1990, IKEA adopted The Natural Step as the basis of its environmental policy and plan, and used the TNS principles to change its products and services. More info and resources about The Natural Step can be found at The Natural Step website.

6. Other Resources

We love MUJI products for their simplicity – Simple is Beautiful. The design of MUJI products is natural and simple. The manufacturing processes of MUJI products are simplified and unnecessary steps are eliminated. MUJI product packaging are also simple, plain and uniform. All these steps help to reduce waste and costs, giving consumers good quality products at lower prices. If retailers learn from MUJI and simplify their materials, processes and packaging, imagine the waste that can be eliminated.

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