NEA Launches Packaging Benchmarking Database to Encourage Businesses to Reduce Waste [Press Release]
Singapore, 22 October 2015 â€“ In 2014, domestic waste formed 57 per cent of all waste disposed of. Of this, about one third was packaging waste. In a bid to curb the growth of packaging waste and inspire businesses to reduce the amount of packaging used in their products, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has launched a packaging benchmarking database hosted on its website which allows companies to compare the packaging weight of their products against the benchmarks of similar products sold locally.
2 Announced earlier this evening by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources at the 3R Packaging Awards presentation ceremony held at the MAX Atria @ Singapore EXPO, the database currently displays the packaging weight benchmarks for six product categories – namely beer, carbonated beverages, chilled juice, fresh milk, non-chilled beverages and water. These benchmarks were obtained after measuring more than 400 consumer products from these six categories. More product categories, such as cooking oil and dishwashing liquid, will be progressively added to the database.
3 The packaging benchmarking database, accessible at www.nea.gov.sg/SPA, classifies products of the same category into â€˜Lightestâ€™, â€˜Medianâ€™, and â€˜Heaviestâ€™ packaging in terms of the packaging weight. The aim is to enable businesses to discover the potential for improving their packaging design and use of materials, and spur them to take action to reduce the amount of packaging in their products. This will ultimately help conserve resources and reduce waste generation.
Singapore Packaging Agreement
4 The packaging benchmarking database is one of the planned enhancement initiatives under the extension of the second Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) â€“ a voluntary agreement where businesses commit to reducing packaging waste. The first Agreement was introduced in 2007, and was initiated as part of Singaporeâ€™s strategy to reduce waste at source and curb the growth of packaging waste, in particular in light of growing consumerism. The second Agreement took effect from 1 July 2012, when the first Agreement expired on 30 June 2012.
5 As of October 2015, a total of 164 signatories have come on board the Agreement, including industry associations, businesses, non-governmental organisations and public waste collectors. Since the Agreementâ€™s inception in 2007, the signatories have made commendable progress in reducing waste, and have cumulatively reduced about 26,000 tonnes of packaging waste, which is enough packaging waste to fill 50 Olympic-size swimming pools. This has amounted to cumulative savings of more than $58 million in the material costs of locally consumed products. NEA, together with the signatories, is working towards a goal of a total annual reduction of 10,000 tonnes of packaging waste by 2020, with 2007 as the base year.
6 As part of the extension of the Agreement, NEA is also exploring options, including the possible introduction of mandatory requirements, for more sustainable packaging waste management in the longer term. NEA will be engaging stakeholders over the next few months, starting from December 2015, to gather suggestions and feedback on this.
3R Packaging Awards 2015
7 This year, 16 companies were presented with the 3R Packaging Award, which recognises SPA signatories which have made notable efforts and achievements in reducing packaging waste. Three companies â€“ namely NestlÃ© Singapore (Pte) Ltd, Seagate Technology International and Tetra Pak Jurong Pte Ltd – received the prestigious Platinum Award, which is given to companies that win two consecutive Distinction Awards.
8 Through its latest four key initiatives put in place to reduce packaging waste, NestlÃ© has managed to reduce a total of 11.76 tonnes of paper and plastic packaging waste annually, and cut material costs by more than $10,000 per year in the process. For Seagate, the company managed to divert 47 tonnes of packaging waste per year away from disposal by sending its polyethylene-aluminum packaging for recycling instead. Last but not least, Tetra Pak earned the Distinction Award this year for reducing its usage of plastic bags for the collection of a production by-product, participating in community events to educate members of the public on recycling, and conducting a recycling drive (please refer to the 3R Packaging Awards 2015 booklet for more details on NestlÃ©â€™s, Seagateâ€™s and Tetra Pakâ€™s initiatives).
9 Chief Executive Officer of NEA, Mr Ronnie Tay, said, â€œI would like to commend and congratulate all the winners of this yearâ€™s 3R Packaging Awards. While we encourage recycling, it is equally, if not more important to reduce waste generated at source. The packaging benchmarking database can contribute towards this effort by helping companies realise the potential for improving their packaging design, to reduce the use of materials and ultimately help cut packaging waste. I encourage all companies to reduce packaging waste, and join the national effort towards making Singapore a Zero Waste Nation.â€
10 Chairman of the Singapore Packaging Agreement Governing Board, Mr Ong Lye Huat added, â€œIt has been an exhilarating journey over the past eight years since the SPA was initiated in 2007 and we have seen SPAâ€™s sphere of influence grow, with more coming on board to pledge their commitment to reduce waste and get their suppliers and partners to do so as well. I would like to urge all companies which use or supply packaging products in your business operations to join us in our quest to cut waste and make more sustainable use of packaging resources. Let us do our part in the endeavour towards a more sustainable future for Singapore.â€
 In 2015, the total annual reduction of packaging waste achieved through the SPA was about 5,750 tonnes.