Singapore’s First Guide For Rating F&B Retailers On Their Efforts To Reduce Plastic Disposables

October 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Insights, News

Zero Waste SG has launched the BYO Singapore Guide 2018 to encourage food and beverage (F&B) retailers to take more action in reducing plastic disposables. This guide provides a rating of 100 popular F&B retailers in Singapore based on their efforts to reduce single-use plastic disposables, encourage a Bring Your Own (BYO) culture among customers, and list recommendations for them to do more.

Single-use plastic disposables pose a serious environmental problem around the world because plastics are made from non-renewable fossil fuel resources, do not break down easily in nature, could release toxic chemicals under certain conditions, and contribute to marine litter that affects wildlife, human health and the environment. Plastic waste is the most common type of waste disposed of at the incineration plants in Singapore, and the burning of plastics produces greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.

Several countries and cities have taken steps to reduce or phase out plastic disposables. In Singapore, there are currently no regulations prohibiting or reducing the use of plastic disposables, especially in the F&B industry, where retailers use a significant amount of single-use plastic disposables. Zero Waste SG believes that it is time for F&B retailers in Singapore to be more serious and take bold actions to reduce our consumption of single-use plastic disposables.

Therefore, Zero Waste SG has conducted a public audit of 100 popular retailers to assess the extent of their efforts to reduce the use of single-use disposables and published the rating results in the BYO Singapore Guide 2018. Through the guide, Zero Waste SG hopes to urge the F&B retailers to assess whether they are ahead or behind their peers, and to take the appropriate and right actions to reduce the consumption of plastic disposables.

The retailers are selected from different categories such as coffee and tea cafes, bakeries, restaurants, tea and juice kiosks, food kiosks, and fast food restaurants. The audits were completed over 2 months from mid-Jul to mid-Sep 2018 by 53 auditors, who are mostly volunteers and also staff of Zero Waste SG. For each retailer, 3 audits at different outlets were randomly conducted in order for the data collected to be more representative, and the average audit result was chosen from the 3 audit results. All the audits were “mystery shopper” audits, where the identity of the auditor was not revealed to the retail staff, so as to ensure that the audit of the experience at the retail outlet is real.

A set of 12 “Yes/No” audit questions were used. Points are awarded only for “Yes” answers to the questions, with some questions being allocated more points as they reflect greater commitment by the retailer to reduce single-use disposables, such as charging a fee for the disposables, or providing incentives if customers bring their own reusable. The points are added up and each retailer was rated from 1 to 3 stars depending on the total points achieved. The audit results show the following:

  • 3-Star Retailers: 3
  • 2-Star Retailers: 14
  • 1-Star Retailers: 83

Out of the 100 retailers, only 3 retailers were able to achieve the highest rating of 3 stars. They are Plain Vanilla Bakery, Common Man Coffee Roasters. and SaladStop!. These 3-star retailers should be commended for their holistic efforts in implementing schemes to influence consumer behaviour, altering their operations to reduce single-use disposables, and educating their staff to encourage and welcome a BYO culture.

Ms Stella Cochrane, Communications and Events Executive of Common Man Coffee Roasters, said, “As a business, Common Man Coffee Roasters aims to champion coffee knowledge, appreciation and sustainable practices throughout South-East Asia. This ethos runs from our relationships with coffee farmers through to our wholesale and cafe suppliers, and also our café customers. As such, we see it as our responsibility to help tackle the global plastic pollution problem we are facing in any ways that we can. We have bigger plans for the future but by taking our current small steps to change habits and increase awareness about the issue we hope to help our customers lead a more sustainable life whilst still enjoying our brunches and brews!”

Ms Katherine Braha Desbaillets, Director of SaladStop!, said, “We believe that environmental friendliness is a crucial responsibility and must be an integral component of our operational excellence. Our quest to improve SaladStop!’s sustainability begins with our commitment to take responsibility and reduce our environmental footprint. Our report for 2018 establishes the five key goals we’ve set for the future: greener packaging, sustainable sourcing, water conservation, efficient illumination and cleaner cleaning.”

14 retailers were able to achieve the second highest rating of 2 stars. Most of them had an incentive or disincentive scheme, and also had some initiatives to nudge the customers in reducing plastic disposables or replaced plastic disposables with other sustainable alternatives. The majority of the retailers audited (83 retailers) achieved the low rating of 1 star. This meant that most F&B retailers are not taking enough action to reduce single-use plastic disposables and there is an opportunity for them to catch up with their peers who have achieved 3 or 2-star rating.

An encouraging result from the audits was that 94 out of 100 retailers accepted BYO requests from customers. This shows that the majority of F&B retailers are open to the idea of consumers using their own reusable cup, container and bag during purchase.

Ms Pek Hai Lin, Manager of Zero Waste SG, said, “We believe that it is time for F&B retailers in Singapore to place greater priority in taking bold actions to reduce their use of plastic disposables. More consumers are demanding that retailers play a stronger role in tackling the use of plastic disposables. Retailers can improve customer and brand loyalty by showing that they care for the environment and being responsible to our future generations in conserving non-renewable resources.”

F&B retailers who hope to achieve a higher rating can follow these recommendations that were distilled from the efforts of 3-star retailers: i) identify opportunities to track, reduce and replace plastic disposables; ii) start a plastic reduction and BYO scheme to educate consumers and train staff; and iii) provide incentives or disincentives to encourage customers to BYO. Zero Waste SG looks forward to working closely with the retailers to reduce plastic disposables in Singapore, and achieve a truly Zero Waste Nation.

Download the BYO Singapore Guide 2018 at http://www.zerowastesg.com/byorating/