A breakdown of how we helped transform the business landscape in Singapore to reduce plastic use.
Starting 1 July 2019, more than 270 F&B outlets from 31 brands will be phasing out straws as part of PACT (Plastic ACTion), a WWF initiative for businesses to reduce plastic use.
This is a major industry-wide effort supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Zero Waste Singapore.
Since WWF’s announcement on the move yesterday, it has received positive responses from members of the public, local politicians and businesses alike.
Some people even tagged their favourite F&B chains and local supermarkets like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Hans Im Glück German Burgergrill and NTUC Fairprice.
Others are also pushing for a solution to address massive single-use disposables at hawker centres.
Just a five-minute walk around typical hawker centres reveal an impossible sight: plastic cups topped with plastic lids – and straws – lining the coloured tables. Come dinner time, snaking queues will start to form, hustling hawkers dispensing plastic cutlery and chilli packets to famished customers before spotting happy faces leave the queue. Each carrying a take-away wrapped in plastic. Tons of plastic.
Pek Hai Lin, Manager of Zero Waste Singapore says, “Local support to reduce unnecessary plastics has grown in tandem with awareness about the environmental impact of plastic disposables. With more people now opting to bring their own reusable containers, bags or straws, we hope to see the movement encourage businesses to reduce other single-use plastic disposables too.”
It’s true then; while this is reason to celebrate, going straws-free makes up only the first part of the equation.
Key timeline of events
As with most good outcomes, the pieces don’t come together in one night.
We have come a long way since.
From the last quarter of 2018 when we first started with our first PACT company commitments, significant progress in baseline measurement and goal-setting has come to pass.
“This is only the beginning to the real impact, which is to take place from this year onwards for the next few years. The end goal is to stop production of single-use plastic and switch to options where no materials are wasted,” explained Maggie Lee, Market Transformation Manager at WWF-Singapore.
Timeline of important milestones in our PACT initiative:
Note: The PACT initiative comprised of two parts: 1) sectoral collaboration where brands come together to make synchronised commitments and 2) company commitment where we work closely with individual companies to significantly reduce plastic consumption and enable a circular economy.
Businesses do not make blind commitments
The last thing we want to see in a set of commitments: unrealistic, unreachable targets.
Said Maggie Lee, Market Transformation Manager at WWF-Singapore, “Our biggest win is to see industry leaders pondering hard about how they can move their businesses to come on-board PACT with meaningful commitments and feasible business integrations.”
“This also means that we are helping businesses become more sustainable in the area of plastic production and consumption without unrealistic expectations.”
For example, while Kraftwich is charging for plastic bags and giving discounts to customers who bring their own reusable items, Novotel Singapore on Stevens from the AccorHotels has replaced plastic bottles with glass containers in its meeting rooms.
Next immediate steps for businesses in Singapore
When WWF launched PACT earlier this year, it started off with nine companies who made a serious public commitment to reduce plastic use.
Today, it has grown to 13 companies.
Our four latest companies that have joined PACT, Tadcaster Hospitality, Annam Pte Ltd (Nam Nam), Spa Esprit Group, and the Lo & Behold Group, are not also taking part in the initiative to phase out straws, they are also committing to more long-term measures like reducing the use of other single-use disposables and packaging.
Which is what we are aiming to do with the other 31 brands that owned the 270 outlets.
More needs to be done
This is a remarkable industry commitment which addresses the excessive use of plastic disposables in Singapore.
There is no time to lose. Communities, government stakeholders and business have to work and act together and establish a circular economy for plastics, and find better ways to manage the overused material better.
Will you nominate your favourite retail businesses, restaurants and cafes to join this collective move here?
If you like reading this, read how PACT signee SaladStop!’s Katherine Braha builds a sustainable business empire, five plastic-related questions for every business owner, and why plastic is not the villain.