The SILENT Green Revolution Series: Green Ready Meal Packaging
With climate change and melting polar ice comes rising sea levels. Globally, sea levels are projected to rise between 0.25m and 0.76m towards the end of the century. When 30% of Singapore lies less than 5m above the main sea level the rising sea level will change our landscape, especially in the coastal areas, and biodiversity of this island drastically. This will directly impact our current and children’s lives.
“With all waste or pollution, someone somewhere pays for it.”
It will take you and me, acting collectively to make a difference to the environment around us. Businesses and business leaders today must also get involved.
This series (SILENT Green Revolutions) brings awareness to the movements in Singapore towards greater sustainability and ‘green revolutions’ that are making a difference to the world.
From green meal packaging to the rise of fair-trade practices, the world is changing in ways that matter to all of us.
In all economies, the spread of new technology and innovations start at the top; Big industrial giants and investors fund research and start-ups to come up with cleaner and greener solutions to existing problems and solutions. These new technology trickles down smaller firms and brick and mortar stores, finally becoming part and parcel of our everyday life.
The Ready-Meal market in Singapore is a growing one, and it grows with the rise of large capacity “warm-food” vending machines. These vending machines are already found in many locations like hospitals, community centers, and universities.
As with all single-serving, or single-use products, the environmental cost usually goes up – single-serving food products creates the most packaging waste! Typically, a product can have an exterior design packaging, an internal vacuum sealed layer, and additional packets for seasonings. Just from a single food pack, the amount of waste generated is alarming.
“…food packaging makes up a sizeable proportion of Singapore’s waste. It accounted for 11 percent of 766,800 tonnes of plastic waste, and 14 percent of 588,500 tonnes of paper and cardboard waste last year. This is even as the total amount of rubbish grew: It weighed in at 3.02 million tonnes last year, an increase of 264,300 tonnes from 2010.”- The Straits Times
Fortunately, a growing trend in the food manufacturing industry when it comes to packaging is the shift from plastic to biodegradable materials like corn or other plant fibre. Such efforts serve to reduce carbon footprint and energy consumption by keeping the use of boxes, labels and sleeves at bay. One example would be to print necessary data on the surface of the tray, eliminate unnecessary packaging and other features such as labelling etc. This helps to save nearly thirty percent of the materials used and energy when compared to the process of thermoforming.
Latest technologies have allowed companies to adopt green packaging, minimizing the wastage of essential resources required for packaging production. Some examples include:
Olive Green: a local company that creates 100% biodegradable containers that can replace all traditionally plastic packaging. They utilize Origo, a trademarked low-carbon footprint material that is derived from corn to create a material that is toxic-free, strong and durable. Most importantly, it is as affordable as plastic.
Cheng MohHuat: a distributor of biodegradable food packaging, works with manufacturers of green products, and supplies established customers like BreadTalk, Food Republic and Kopitiam.
The use of green packaging by companies is a commitment to responsible management of the product’s lifespan, from recycling water to waste and compositing. Other than fulfilling their commitment to corporate social responsibility, these companies also stand to benefit from lower transportation cost and improved brand image amongst their consumer. With little to lose, we are calling on more F&B companies to be part of this movement and incorporate greener packaging for your products.
In spite of such developments, a lot more can still be done to reduce the use of ready-meal packaging. This involves relooking at the way items are packaged together, and encouraging behavioural changes such as providing utensil-free versions for customers with personal utensils or straws.
GasHub Utility, as a multi-utility company, aims to be at the forefront of bringing Singapore into a sustainable capital of the world.
GasHub is a multi-utility company – we power industrial, commercial and residential customers with natural gas to meet their electricity, heating and cooling needs. We are the first virtual pipeline distributor for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Singapore since March this year.
We believe in the sustainable use of energy and raising energy efficiency so that we consume less resources. Amongst all fuel sources, natural gas is the least polluting natural resources as it burns clean. Because it comes in a liquefied form, it occupies 300 times lesser space than other fuel storage tanks.
Currently, natural gas powers 95% of Singapore’s electricity.
However, the power grid has an energy efficiency of only 40%. Half of the energy produced by natural gas will be released as waste heat at power stations, and more energy is lost during transmission to the consumer. This is not a sustainable model for power generation. Moreover, the highly polluting Compressed Petroleum Gas (CPG) or Town Gas still powers most households in Singapore.
What we believe in
We believe all businesses should switch to natural gas. We should use LNG as a bridge towards a more sustainable future. Instead of the centralized power generation, big energy consumers should use decentralized grids that will help them reduce 30% of the energy wastage and cost. This conversion is a huge leap in the right direction.