Launch of the Packaging Partnership Programme to develop industry capability in sustainable packaging waste management

As part of the Singapore Packaging Agreement Awards for 2020, 10 large companies and five small and medium enterprises have been recognised for their packaging waste reduction efforts.

The Packaging Partnership Programme (PPP) was officially launched today at the inaugural PPP Conference, themed Sustainable Packaging for Our Shared Future. The PPP is a new industry-led initiative by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), in partnership with the National Environment Agency (NEA), which aims at developing industry capability in the sustainable management of packaging waste.

Packaging waste, including plastics, is one of Singapore’s priority waste streams and accounts for about one-third of domestic waste disposed of. The Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) was launched in 2007, in conjunction with World Environment Day, as a joint initiative by government, industry, and non-governmental organisations to reduce packaging waste. The SPA was a voluntary initiative that offered signatories the flexibility to adopt cost-effective solutions to reduce waste.

By the conclusion of the SPA in June last year, it had brought more than 200 organisations across Singapore together that cumulatively saved around 62,000 tonnes of packaging waste, amounting to S$150 million (US$111.5 million) in costs.

More than 100 signatories have been recognised for their efforts in reducing waste at the SPA Awards. This year, 10 multi-national companies (MNCs)and large local enterprises (LLEs), and five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were presented with SPA Awards for packaging waste reduction efforts undertaken between 1 Mar 2019 and 29 Feb 2020. The companies were assessed in three tiers awards, with the highest being Top Achievement, followed by Excellence and Merit Awards. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the SPA Awards 2020 was held in 2021.

Resort World Sentosa (RWS) was awarded the Top Achievement Award for the third time under the MNC category. RWS implemented many packaging waste reduction initiatives, such as replacing their disposable sauce dishes and plastic drinking cups with reusable melamine ones at their Malaysian Food Street food court, and removing unnecessary packaging, such as the inner plastic packaging of retail products.

The Top Achievement Award under the SME category was awarded to Microwave Packaging. The company improved its production process for paper meal boxes. It used to print four paper boxes on a single sheet of paper. In November 2019, it switched from printing four paper boxes to six paper boxes on a differently-designed and thinner sheet of paper. This initiative has helped Microwave Packaging save approximately 70 tonnes of packaging material annually.

F&N Foods and Nestlé Singapore were awarded the Excellence Awards under the MNCs/LLEs category. The former improved the design of their product packaging to use less packaging per polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle. This led to a reduction of more than 60 tonnes of packaging material annually. The company also incorporated the Logo for Products with Reduced Packaging on the labels of these products.

As for the latter, it started using reusable polypropylene plastic caddies, instead of paper boxes, to hold their beverage products. This enabled the company to reduce their use of packaging material by about 11.7 tonnes per year.

Luke Goh, CEO of NEA, commented: “SPA’s excellent results over the past decade has laid the foundation for NEA and SMF to launch the PPP. The programme will develop the industry’s capabilities in managing packaging waste sustainably. It will also support companies in meeting the requirements of the Mandatory Packaging Reporting framework, and eventually, the Extended Producer Responsibility framework for packaging waste.”

With the official launch, the PPP will take on the SPA’s mantle of bringing various organisations together to drive the sustainable management of packaging waste in Singapore. Under the Mandatory Packaging Reporting (MPR) requirements, producers of packaged products and retailers such as supermarkets with an annual turnover of more than S$10 million (US$7.4 million) will be required to collect packaging data and develop plans to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging materials. This is a step towards making companies more aware of the environmental impact of the packaging that they supply to the market. This awareness will spur them to reduce the amount of packaging they use, and the packaging waste that is generated as a result.

Betty Tan, chairperson of the PPP Advisory Committee, concluded: “The PPP aims to be the one-stop resource point to assist companies in their reporting under the MPR, while encouraging more companies to join in reducing packaging waste through reducing, reusing or recycling packaging materials.”