CIRCULAR ECONOMY

16 Oct WE’RE HIRING – Project Executive (Food Waste) based in Singapore [CLOSED]

Placement Title: Project Executive – Food Waste
Location: Singapore
Start Date: early to mid November 2018
Duration: 1-year contract role*

*With opportunity to extend or convert to a full-time role based on performance

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans here in Asia or over 1/3rd of all food being wasted, then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for a Project Executive with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, in addition to Mandarin language skills (as this is a requirement for the job role), for our research projects in Singapore and the region. This role based in Singapore involves working on a food waste project in Singapore in collaboration with businesses and government. The focus of the role includes liaising with businesses, conducting surveys and data collection and supporting waste audits and creation of insights. The goal of the project is to create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Singapore and Asia.

Working with Gone Adventurin provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in engineering, business, packaging, environment, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role may involve local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Requirements:

  • Fluent in speaking and reading in Mandarin (as this is a requirement for the job role)
  • 1+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies, NGOs or throughout University/Polytechnic
  • The right attitude, interpersonal and communication skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers
  • Problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection
  • Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges.
  • Self motivated and highly organised individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment
  • Excellent referrals from at least 1 previous client, past employers or professor
  • Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Singapore to conduct research and meet with stakeholders
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)
  • Strong English skills – verbal and written

Preferred:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance
  • Experience in research on environmental sustainability topics – especially waste management or recycling. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role.
  • Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply, please send to ashwin@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

  1. Your CV
  2. Cover letter
  3. Written references (preferred)

Note for Applicants:

  • Please apply by 25th October 2018
  • We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we may only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements
  • We may require selected applicants to take 1-2 short online courses on solid waste management before starting on the role
  • Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 2 to 3 step interview process
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Singapore_skyline

19 Jul WE’RE HIRING – Project Executive (Food Waste) based in Singapore [CLOSED]

Placement Title: Project Executive – Food Waste
Location: Singapore
Start Date: 15th August 2018
Time Requirement: Full-Time for contract period (August – December 2018)*

*With opportunity to extend or convert to a full-time role based on performance

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans here in Asia or over 1/3rd of all food being wasted, then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for a Project Executive with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, in addition to Mandarin language skills (as this is a requirement for the job role), for our research projects in Singapore and the region.  This role based in Singapore involves working on a food waste project in Singapore in collaboration with businesses and government. The focus of the role includes liaising with businesses, conducting surveys and data collection and supporting waste audits and creation of insights. The goal of the project is to create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Singapore and Asia.

Working with Gone Adventurin provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in engineering, business, packaging, environment, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role may involve local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Applications welcome from graduates and undergraduates.

Requirements:

  • Fluent in speaking and reading in Mandarin (as this is a requirement for the job role)
  • 1+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies, NGOs or throughout University/Polytechnic
  • The right attitude, interpersonal and communication skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers
  • Problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection
  • Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges.
  • Self motivated and highly organized individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment
  • Excellent referrals from at least 1 previous client, past employers or professor
  • Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Singapore to conduct research and meet with stakeholders
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)
  • Strong English skills – verbal and written

Preferred:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance
  • Experience in research on environmental sustainability topics – especially waste management or recycling. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role.
  • Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply, please send to laura@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

  1. Your CV
  2. Cover letter
  3. Written references (preferred)

Note for Applicants:

  • Please apply by 30th July 2018
  • We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we may only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements
  • We may require you to take 1-2 short online courses on solid waste management before starting on the role
  • Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 2-step interview process
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13 Jun OP-ED – Plastics: Enough Trash Talk

Plastics: Enough trash talk

It’s time to end the talk on plastics as trash. It can be a valuable resource for a small country like Singapore. But this is possible only if governments and businesses approach plastics the right way, and when individuals can look beyond waste disposal and realise the real impact of our plastic problem.

A supermarket plastic bag serves its real purpose for 30 minutes, the duration of a journey in Singapore. In a drink, a straw is utilised for just 5 minutes. The use of a plastic stirrer is even more short-lived: all of 10 seconds.

These items have fleeting lifespans, but they outlive us by a long shot – 400 years, to be exact.

Left in our environment, plastics affect ocean health and biodiversity, including corals, seabirds and endangered species. The problem does not simply end there.

Before they even enter our homes, plastics already contribute to climate change. Globally, the manufacturing of plastics consumes the same amount of fossil fuel as the entire aviation industry.

We are living plastic in every way: eating, drinking and even breathing it. Around the world, microplastics have been found in the guts of one out of four fish, in tap water samples of 14 countries and even in air pollution.

Convenience numbs common sense

Little is being done to address this. There was a huge public outcry when the four largest supermarkets in Singapore floated the idea of  a plastic bag charge. Recently, the government announced a decision against a plastic bag ban, highlighting incineration as a solution.

In this all-or-nothing debate that focuses solely on plastic bags, we are missing the point: that we continue to have a major problem with plastic use.

Meanwhile, Singapore generated over 800 million kg of plastic waste last year, only 6% of which was recycled.

The rest of the world is far ahead in taking action on plastic waste.

More than 40 countries have plastic bag bans or taxes in place, including China, Rwanda and Italy. Just across the Causeway, Johor is set to ban plastic bags plastics and polystyrene by this year. Last year, 39 governments announced new commitments to reduce the amount of plastic going into the sea.

By not taking action to reduce plastic’s widespread use, we are perpetuating this global problem. It is high time for a mindset overhaul on plastic in Singapore.

Use less and “useless” plastic

Rather than an all-or-nothing approach, the key lies in understanding what we should use less of, and what we can and should eliminate.

There are “useless” or unnecessary plastics – those that provide a few extra minutes of convenience but are disposed after use. Most plastic straws, lids, cups and stirrers fall in this category. Refusing these useless plastics is an easy step to cutting down on plastic use.

There are plastics that are useful that we can still reduce. A case in point: plastic bags. Singapore’s current usage of plastic bags borders on the excessive. A person in Singapore is estimated to use about 13 plastic bags a day, much more than any household would need for trash disposal.

Alternatives in the form of reusables are widely available in the market today. A recent study by the National Environment Agency has found that a reusable bag replaces the use of 125 single-use plastic bags in a year.

A plastic bag charge can be an effective way to reduce plastic use. Consumption of single-use plastic bags fell by 95 per cent when Ireland introduced a levy in 2002.

In Singapore, lifestyle store chain Miniso witnessed a 75% drop in plastic bag take-up rate after it implemented a $0.10 plastic bag charge in April 2017.

Not all plastics are trash

Even as individuals focus on using less plastic, a wider systemic change is needed to make plastics more useful. Globally, 95% of plastics worth up to US$120 billion are discarded after the first use. Effective recycling ensures that we do not lose economic value from this useful material.

Plastic packaging cannot be eliminated, but it needs to be recovered.

In Singapore, packaging makes up a third of domestic waste. But not enough is being done to hold businesses accountable for the plastics they introduce into the market. In countries such as Japan, for instance, there are laws in place to ensure that businesses do their part to recycle.

Separating plastic waste at the point of disposal also enhances recycling. Currently, Singapore does not require plastics to be segregated from other types of waste. This model undermines recycling efforts and instead incentivises incineration, including that of plastics.

Singapore has made a name for ourselves globally in recovering value from precious resources. We do this for paper and even the water we drink. Why aren’t we treating plastics the same way? An expensive, highly pollutive method like incineration should only be the last solution when all other options are unavailable.

Stop trash talking, start fixing

We have limited time to turn things around. With the looming global plastics crisis, business-as-usual cannot apply.

Businesses need to be held accountable for used plastic, however useful its purpose. This includes being responsible for the entire life cycle of plastics, from packaging to recovery after use.

On a national level, the channels and infrastructure need to be in place to effectively enable recycling by businesses and individuals. Incentives encourage manufacturers to take more responsibility, while disincentives like a plastic tax help spur much needed behaviour change.

To expedite the move towards a more sustainable future, individuals should also play their part by using less plastic, and supporting business and government measures that help address this issue.

We need to stop pushing the responsibility between individuals, businesses and government.

Everyone needs to step up and take action for a problem we will share with the next 16 generations.

The same article was published by The Straits Times on 19 April 2018.

About:

Ahead of Earth Day on 22 April, ten local NGOs and interest groups have co-signed this opinion piece, representing their shared view about the urgent need for collective action on plastic use in Singapore. They are:

  1. ASEAN CSR Network is a regional business organisation promoting responsible business practices.
  2. Ocean Recovery Alliance is a non-profit organisation working on solutions and collaborations to improve ocean health.
  3. Gone Adventurin’ is a business consultancy focused on driving circular economy in Asia.
  4. International Coastal Cleanup Singapore coordinates and organises marine trash clean-ups on beaches and mangroves.
  5. Plastic Disclosure Project works to reduce the environmental impact of plastics in products and packaging.
  6. Plastic-Lite Singapore is a volunteer community raising awareness about the over-use of disposable plastics.
  7. NUS Toddycats! is a volunteer group with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
  8. Tingkat Heroes is an initiative working with communities, schools and businesses to go disposables-free.
  9. Team Small Change is a community that champions small individual changes for large environmental impact.
  10. WWF-Singapore is a global conservation organisation protecting the natural environment and resources.
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KL

02 Apr WE’RE HIRING – Research Surveyor in Kuala Lumpur

Placement Title: Research Surveyor

Location: Kuala Lumpur

Start & End Date: 21st May 2018 to 30th June 2018

Time Requirement: Ideally Full Time (5 days a week). Minimum 3 days a week (Flexible on whether weekdays or weekends)

Type of role: Contractor

About this Project

Approximately 8 million tons of plastic leak into the ocean every year, with 80% of this from Asia.   Malaysia is considered one of the top 8 countries for ocean plastic pollution, with approximately 0.94 million tonnes of plastic mismanaged and leaking into the environment every year.

Gone Adventurin has been commissioned to research plastic and packaging flows in Malaysia (focused on KL) to provide key insights, pioneering metrics and strategic recommendations to our client and to the packaging and consumer goods industry in Malaysia to move towards a world without waste. This research will equip stakeholders with science based evidence, tools and frameworks to create large scale solutions.  

About The Role

Objective of role is to conduct high quality surveys for research into the current status quo of waste in KL.

This includes:

– Conducting surveys:

– Across a pre-agreed number of households, waste collectors, recycling pickers, bulk waste generators, and junk shops. (Approximately 50-75 in total)

– These surveys will be split evenly across different pre-agreed districts, income levels etc.

– Surveys must be completed per schedule and timelines agreed.

– Ensuring that the surveys are high quality:

– Without errors in the data

– All data collected must be standardised to consistent units

– Translating any Malay notes taken during the surveys to English.

– Being available for contact throughout the project duration for any clarifications or updates.

Further details on the above will provided upon role confirmation including finalising the number of surveys and timeline.

A fee of 17 MYR will be paid for every survey completed that meets the quality standards mentioned above. On average, the Research Surveyor is expected to conduct 50-75 surveys over a 4 week period.

Prerequisites and skill sets needed

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills – to approach various stakeholders.
  • Good quantitative data gathering skills to ensure quality of the data collected through the surveys.
  • Capable and comfortable traveling in KL for surveys.
  • At least an intermediate knowledge of English – to communicate with the GA team in Singapore. Survey questions will be in Malay, but the responses must be submitted in English.
  • A basic background in sustainability and environment. Note that past experience in waste management is not required – we’ll train the selected candidate on waste management knowledge required for the role.

What’s in it for you

1. Opportunity to work on a pioneering research study to transform recycling and waste management in Vietnam.

2. Be part of Gone Adventurin – a mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered social enterprise dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia.

About Gone Adventurin (GA)

Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We help companies design business strategies, implement pilots to recycle post-consumer waste and create closed loop supply chains so that nothing goes to waste. Our work enables our clients to become attractive to investors and loved by consumers. We have worked with clients such as P&G in India, Danone in Indonesia, Dole Foods in the Philippines, National Environment Agency in Singapore and Unilever in Vietnam.

Apply Now!

To apply, send your resume/CV to amiruladli@goneadventurin.com.

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29 Mar We Are Hiring – Research Project Manager in Singapore (Application Period Closed)

Note: The application period for this role has closed. We will be in touch with shortlisted candidates.


Placement Title: Research Project Manager
Location: Singapore
Start & End Date: 1st May 2018 onwards
Time Requirement: Full Time (5 days a week)

About the Role:

Gone Adventurin is working on several pioneering, strategic projects in Asia to tackle the serious environmental challenges posed by post-consumer waste in the areas of packaging, particularly plastics, and food.

Why Asia? Because Asia is the biggest contributor to post-consumer waste mismanagement in the world. Over 80% of plastics entering the oceans comes from Asia with just 5 countries responsible for most of this pollution. 52% of fruits and vegetables in Asia are wasted, with the majority of this food loss happening at farm, post-harvest and processing stages even before it reaches stores, supermarkets or consumers.

If you are inspired to tackle the complex challenges of plastic entering the oceans, making packaging circular and impacting the huge amounts of food waste generated across supply chains here in Asia then consider joining our team. Gone Adventurin is a sustainability consultancy and project implementation partner on a mission to tackle post-consumer waste in Asia. Our vision is to create a world without waste.

We are looking for an experienced Research Project Manager with strong analytical, strategic thinking and relationship skills. Ideally your background includes working in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs.

This role involves working on packaging and food waste projects for prominent clients from leading chemicals, packaging, consumer goods and retail industries as well as city and national government agencies across Southeast Asia and India. The focus of the role will be to: create pioneering science based research; provide key insights, strategic recommendations and measurable outcomes; and implement groundbreaking strategies to significantly drive circular economy in Asia.

Working with us provides the opportunity to work in a small, mindfully growing, Singapore-headquartered company dedicated to finding business-driven solutions to tackle waste challenges in Asia. We are dedicated, diverse team of 5 nationalities with multi-faceted backgrounds in packaging science, environmental science, engineering, economics, policy and finance. While primarily based in Singapore, the role involves local travel within the Asia region with an opportunity to meet and build relationships with a wide range of local stakeholders from industry, government and NGOs.

Requirements:

○ 3+ years of experience in management or environmental consulting or in a research, strategy or data analytics role in business, government agencies or NGOs

○ Bachelor’s degree in Physical Sciences (e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Engineering, Environment, Statistics, Business, Accounting or Finance

○ Advanced problem-solving, analytical skills, evidenced research capabilities (e.g. past research or data analysis reports which shows capabilities in these areas) and experience in primary and secondary data collection

○ Strong communication and interpersonal skills to work with various clients and stakeholders

○ The right attitude and skills to work with and manage relationships with people of all backgrounds, from C-Level and senior management of multinationals to recycling workers

○ Capable and comfortable traveling throughout Asia to conduct research and meet with stakeholders

○ Evidenced passion and deep-seated aspiration to tackle environmental challenges

○ Self motivated and highly organized individual able to work in a dynamic and deliverables-oriented work environment

○ Excellent referrals from at least 2 previous clients or past employers

○ Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)

○ Strong English skills – verbal and written

○ Based in Singapore and committed to be based in Singapore for a minimum of 2 years

Preferred:

○ Experience in leading teams to successfully deliver on projects within timelines

○ Past experience in plastics, waste management or recycling industries. If you do not have waste management experience and/or circular economy understanding we require you to take 1-2 short online courses before starting on the role

○ Proficiency in using Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

How to Apply:

To apply please send to ashwin@goneadventurin.com all of the below:

1. Your CV

2. Cover letter and

3. Past reports that you have worked on which shows your capabilities in research and data analysis

Note for Applicants:

○ We usually receive a number of applicants for our open positions so we’ll only be able to respond to applicants who meet our requirements

○ Applicants who meet our requirements for this role can expect a 3-step interview process

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EU Event

26 Oct Towards a Plastic-Free Oceans Conference

Without a doubt, plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our times. While an overwhelming amount of 8 million tonnes of plastics keeps on entering the oceans each year, the silver lining is that awareness is on the rise.

“There will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050” is an oft-quoted research finding of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and is one of the several research findings in the burgeoning field of ocean plastics that has helped galvanize a global movement eager to work on solutions to tackle the problem.

Building on this global momentum, the European Union Delegation to Singapore and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Singapore organised a half-day conference on Wednesday 25th of October titled ‘Towards a plastic-free ocean: What role for policy makers, civil society and business?’. During the conference, businesses, policy makers, non-government organisations and civil society were brought together to act on improving the ocean environment and promote the transition to a circular economy.

In her remarks H.E. Barbara Plinkert, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Singapore stated, “This conference is highly pertinent and highly timely. It comes after the recently concluded Our Oceans conference in Malta where the topic of plastic waste in oceans figured prominently and was recognised as a global problem.“
Clip #70H.E. Barbara Plinkert, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Singapore.

The attendees showed a great deal of empathy towards the topic. “We take from the oceans as if it is an endless resource and we dump in the oceans as if it was a bottomless pit”, said H.E. Margriet Vonno, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei during her openings remarks, echoing the words of Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission. José María Figueres, former President of the Republic of Costa Rica and co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission, added “If we could go back in time and rename our planet, we should call it “Ocean” instead of “Earth”, as the oceans cover 70% of our planet and life outside of the ocean heavily depends on good health inside of the ocean. Therefore, the oceans are a responsibility of everyone.”

2H.E. Margriet Vonno, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Singapore and Brunei.

Throughout the morning, representatives and attendees shared insights, approaches and solutions that were encouraging and made it possible to believe that we can tackle this problem urgently to move towards a plastic free ocean.

Here are the 5 solutions coming from the conference on the different areas of government, business, society, universities and funding:

1. Government – Policy & Enforcement Needed to achieve a Plastic Free Ocean

A bill imposing measures on manufacturers to take back their post-consumer packaging in Philippines, a complete ban on plastic bags in Rwanda, a ban on landfills and free plastic bags in Europe; these were some of the existing or proposed legislations mentioned during the conference. There was also an acknowledgement of the fact that while creation of good policies is very important, strict enforcement of these policies in several Southeast Asian countries is equally critical and remains a challenge.

Europe’s ban on landfilling is a successful example of this, according to Karl Falkenberg, former Director General for the Environment of the European Commission. “A ban on landfill is not penalising economic success, it is contributing to it. Converting from a linear economy to a circular economy offers a range of opportunities. In the EU alone, the waste management and recycling industry employs 2 million people and many of those people are in qualified positions.” said Karl.

The policy approach of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was brought up multiple times during the conference. With EPR, producers are given a responsibility for funding or managing the recycling, treatment or responsible disposal of their products in the post-consumption stage.

It was observed that while it was common for local Southeast Asian entities of companies to think that EPR affects the business negatively, other companies focus on the benefits. “As an industry, we need to embrace EPR”, Roelof Westerbeek, President Amcor Flexibles Asia Pacific, stated. “EPR is not a risk or a threat, it is a social responsibility that we have and an incredible opportunity to add value to society as a company. Contributing to the process of creating it will increase the success and effectiveness of EPR”.

Karl Falkenberg said he had witnessed the same phenomenon in Europe over the last two decades where corporates were worried when calculating the negative effect the European EPR systems would have on their business. In hindsight, more than 20 year later, he concludes that the calculations used were widely exaggerated and by following EPR systems a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of waste management and recycling was created, leading to a flourishing industry with 2 million job opportunities and EU-wide average recycling rate of 65% for all household and industrial packaging. The ambitious Circular Economy Package recently adopted by the European Commission now has a target of 75% recycling rates for all packaging materials by 2030.

Roelof Westerbeek - Towards a Plastic Free OceanParticipants at the conference included representatives from businesses, policy makers, non-government organisations and civil society.

One of the other points raised during a panel was that the same businesses that are part of following EU EPR legislations are often found to be lobbying against it in Southeast Asia. On this point Ian Hayes, Global Packaging Development Director for GSK noted that businesses in EU were also initially unsupportive of EPR legislation, but once it was enforced business knew they had to go on with the program and made it work.

Up-to-date and consistent data on production and usage of plastics across various industries and in post-consumer use will be critical to ensure that any EPR legislations are effective in tackling the issue of plastic waste mismanagement.

In 2018 Singapore takes on the the role of Chair of ASEAN and EU coordinator for ASEAN. This offers a big opportunity for Singapore to influence regional-level legislations to tackle ocean plastics, as ocean plastics does not respect boundaries and this issue remains a regional, if not a global challenge.

2. Business – Solid Waste Management Offers Economic Growth Opportunities

On the sidelines of the conference, several businesses endorsed the need for a good legislative framework like EPR, provided that it is well-designed and implemented. Companies also saw the need to de-risk themselves from negative externalities posed by ocean plastics.

China recently announced that it will no longer accept various categories of waste imports by the end of 2017. A shutdown of borders might seem like a reason to panic, however the complete opposite has happened in European countries. Karl Falkenberg said, “Waste management and recycling business are delighted. These companies have been lobbying for an export ban on waste for years, and now their biggest competitor enables this instead. This is a fantastic opportunity for European recyclers.”

In Singapore, collection of municipal solid waste was done by National Environment Agency (NEA) itself until the 1990s and has since then been done the private sector. Ananda Ram Bhaskar, Director-General of Environmental Protection at NEA, explained that collection services were privatised as Singapore believed the private sector would do it better. He also noted that in Singapore household waste collection fees are included in the utilities bill together with electricity, water and gas. This means non-payment of waste collection fees by a household will lead to a cut-off of all utilities services.

Since waste collection across large swathes of several Southeast Asian cities is non-existent, a profitable, privatised model of waste collection is a system that other countries in the region could consider following. Such a system also offers opportunities to formalise and up-skill the waste management industry that still remains largely dominated by the informal sector, thus leading to better livelihoods and health outcomes for millions of people in the industry.

Amy Khor - towards a Plastic Free OceanDr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources & Ministry of Health was the Guest of Honour for the Conference and delivered the keynote speech.

3. Society – Shift in Mindset from Waste to Materials

The conference also indicated the consensus that rather than talking about post-consumer plastics as waste, we should collectively start talking about it as materials. Laura Allen, co-founder of Gone Adventurin, stated that USD 80 – 120 billion of business value is lost due to the current linear economy model of managing plastic packaging.

Kees Slingerland, Business Director of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, added that a fee on plastic bag usage in retail stores can help bring the issue of excessive plastic use and wastage into people’s consciousness.

Jeroen van de Waal, CEO & Founder of OrcaScuba, pointed out that many of us adults have kids. While adults sometimes end up working in silos, kids can produce the “candy-store effect” where they can help us see different perspectives. Engaging kids in a positive way is key to making a difference. “Nowadays, there are many environmental documentaries available online that succeed in pointing out the overwhelming impact of environmental issues. But we must ensure that our children don’t get demotivated by seeing all of this or think of the planet as a lost case.” Educating the younger generation through first-hand experiences of the beauty of our ocean and harmful effects of ocean pollution can be a potent tool in driving greater collaboration.

This point was well-highlighted at the conference, where the emcees were two high school students from Dulwich College and St. Joseph’s Institution in Singapore. The students helped to bring home the point that outcomes of this conference were also about the future generations.

4. Universities & Institutes – Research Needed to Drive Circularity of Plastics

Professor William Chen Wei Ning, Director of the Food Science & Technology Programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore shared his experiences on driving circularity in the area food that is currently being wasted. One of the of the new and pioneering technological processes developed by his team of NTU researchers is to turn spent beer grains into a economically valuable liquid used to grow yeast instead of being used as low-value compost or animal feed. One of the other outputs of this process is cellulose which is turned into feedstock for bio-plastics.

1Professor William Chen Wei Ning, Director of the Food Science & Technology Programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

Considering many streams of plastics such as PET bottles or diapers can last for as long as 450 years, there remains a lot of scope to bring similar circular thinking into plastics recycling technologies or more recyclable plastics. The need for recyclable packaging, better design and material choice to make sure that packaging can be circular was touched upon during one of the panels.

However, creating recyclable plastics does not necessarily lead to immediate adoption by the industry. Roelof Westerbeek shared his company had developed a new type of mono-material recyclable flexible packaging but it was rejected by consumer goods companies as it was deemed to be more expensive than multi-material flexible packaging which is currently not recyclable.

On a panel question on bioplastics and its feasibility as a solution for the ocean plastics challenge, Karl Falkenberg noted that bioplastics need the right conditions such as the right temperature to fully biodegrade and break down. Jacqueline McGlade, the UN’s top environmental scientist noted in a 2016 report that biodegradable plastics such as bioplastic offer a ‘false solution’ for the ocean waste problem.

5. Funding – Addressing the Huge Gap in Asean

Ian Hayes brought up a point from the Global Waste Management Outlook 2015 report by UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association that 1% allocation of a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) is considered best practice to achieve 95% collection rates or higher so that the current linear economy models of solid waste management. “However”, he added “most developing countries in Southeast Asia only spend 0.01% to 0.1% of GNI on their solid waste management efforts.”

This indicated the huge funding gap that is preventing the creation of infrastructure for municipal waste collection, behaviour change campaigns to increase segregation rates and development of alternatives to landfilling or open dumping of plastics, especially multi-material flexible plastics (such as sachets) which are considered to be of low-value by the recycling industry.

With plastics now beginning to enter the food chain through our oceans, it becomes even more pertinent to continue building the momentum towards a plastic free oceans from a global and regional health security point of view.

We at Gone Adventurin are honoured and proud to have been invited by the European Delegation to Singapore and the Embassy of the Netherlands to be a part of organising one of Singapore’s first regional dialogues on the issue of marine plastics together with the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the European Chamber of Commerce Singapore.

We look forward to driving the urgently-needed positive and constructive outcomes from this conference to drive change towards a plastic free ocean.

our-ocean_400x356_en_18976_13This conference was held on the back of the recently concluded Our Oceans 2017 conference in Malta hosted by the European Union.

Watch the summary video from the conference here:

This article was written by Emilie Rost Van Tonningen and Ashwin Subramaniam.

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21 Feb Consumer Goods Companies are Sitting on an Additional 2.5 Trillion Dollars of Value

Business and individuals alike are used to the linear model of “take, make, dispose”. This is illustrated by the enormous landfills we have, open dump sites and waste leakage into the ocean. While this may have been sustainable with an agrarian economy, the industrial revolution has ballooned our demand for resources and over stretched the Earth’s capacity. Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. And this amount is expected to double by 2050.

In addition, when primary materials run out, they… run out. This poses price risks globally that we are already seeing the effects of.  Price volatility for metals and agricultural output in the last decade was higher than any one decade in the 20th century. Waste generation rates in developing markets, particularly in Asia, are growing exponentially. Take Indonesia which currently generates a staggering 175,000 tonnes of material ‘waste’ every day (64 millions per year). The majority of these resources are just dumped into landfill. As incomes and consumption grows, the number can only get higher, fast.

Money down the drain

This outdated and inefficient linear model does not make economic sense for businesses – an estimated US$ 2.5 trillion (about 80% of the total value) of the global consumer goods sector is lost annually. A switch to a circular economy can save companies over US$1 trillion a year by 2025 if companies focus on supply chain, distribution and brand communications that increase recycling, reusing and remanufacturing.

For example, most plastic is used once and thrown away – the equivalent of US$80 to 120 billion is thrown away every year (about 95% of the value of of plastic packaging material) when it could be recycled.

Going Circular

Instead of “take, make, dispose”, the Circular Economy aims to keep materials in use for as long as possible. The image below illustrates the different ways in which organic materials (left side) and inorganic materials (right side) can be used sustainably. For example, in the case of a phone, we should prolong it’s use, reuse it, refurbish or repair it and finally, recycle it to extract raw materials for further manufacturing. The objective is to stop the material from entering the ecosystem (ie keep the materials out of landfill, dumps, or oceans) and instead keep it in circulation.

Ambitions of the New Plastics Economy. Source: New Plastics Economy

Outline of a new circular economy. Source: New Plastics Economy

This is not the reality we have right now with 86% of plastic and 85% of e-waste being lost after use, and nearly one third of all food produced being lost or wasted.

Plastic

Today, plastics use an enormous 6% of the world’s oil production today and pose one of the biggest threats to the environment. As seen from the image below only 2% of all plastic produced is recycled “closed-loop” where the material used to make, say a bottle, ends up recycled into another bottle. Another 8% of plastics are downcycled into items like carpets, shirts and furniture. The majority (86%) is not recycled.

Plastic Flow. Source: New Plastics Economy

Plastic Flow. Source: New Plastics Economy

This doesn’t have to be the case, and Gone Adventurin has seen first hand how implementing a circular approach to plastic can help reduce environmental impact, help people come out of poverty, and make good business sense – as summarised by Gone Adventurin’s CEO, Ashwin, below.

E-Waste

Every year 27 million tonnes of electronic products are put on the market in Asia (nearly half the global amount!), and this number is growing by 29% each year. And while OECD countries have increasingly legislated for the proper collection and treatment of e-waste, most Asian countries are only now waking up the scale of the challenge. Add to this illegal transboundary movements of e-waste and we get “dumping grounds” due to waste from developed countries being shipped to developing countries for illegal and unsafe “backyard recycling”. Globally only 15.5% of e-waste (electronics) are recycled responsibly. Given that Asia is almost half of all electronic sales, it’s not surprising that Asia now generates the highest proportion of e-waste in the world.

This is particularly baffling, since most of the materials required to manufacture electronic gadgets are rare-earth metals which are in short supply and will soon run out  (see image below).

Heavy Metals: How Long will they Last? Source: New Scientist

Heavy Metals: How Long will they Last? Source: New Scientist

Luckily, new legislations are being enacted to ensure collection and proper resource recovery, and companies that manufacture these goods are starting to create take-back programs where consumers can return the waste. And it won’t be a moment too soon.

The beginning of change

All this wasted money isn’t going unnoticed – businesses are starting to realise the value in a circular economy where products are designed with the end in mind. Where they can be sorted, processed, converted to raw materials and used again for manufacturing. Rethinking supply chain practices and making recycling more accessible to consumers are two prongs of this approach.

Unilever’s “I want to be Recycled” is a good example – by educating and creating awareness amongst their consumers, they are able to drive higher recycling rates and work towards their goal of using 25% recycled plastic content in their packaging.

In Taiwan, used coffee grounds collected from Starbucks cafes are made into T-shirts, socks and soaps. Levi Strauss has also done the same, through in-store collection of old clothes and shoes from any brand, they get a steady supply of raw material that can then be transformed for other uses like insulation for buildings and even cushioning material.

In a collaboration with OpenIDEO, Coca-Cola crowdsourced ideas in 2014 on how recycling rates can be increased at home. From this came “How do I recycle this?” in 2015: an application where consumers can scan a product’s barcode & input their postcode to get up to date information on how to recycle an item.

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And with the increasing trends of open innovation and collaboration, businesses are also tapping on startups to find solutions to drive the circular economy. “Looptworks” for example, repurposes leftover materials from premium goods manufacturers to make new products. In 2014, they partnered with Southwest Airlines to up-cycle its seat leather into soccer balls and bags. Another example is LanzaTech that “uses a patented microbe technology to convert carbon-rich wastes and residues into fuel and chemical products”. They have also partnered with Boeing to produce low carbon jet fuel from ethanol derived from this process.

The Case in Asia

In Asia, the challenge is two fold – on the one hand, consumers are not aware of the need to recycle and on the other, the infrastructure for waste (materials) collection and processing is nowhere close to achieving population coverage (for example in many developing markets only 60-70% of the population is served by formal waste collection services). Though the per capita waste is low, the sheer scale of our continent and the fact that 2/3rds of the world lives in Asia, makes this especially challenging and critical. In addition to redesigning products to be recyclable and awareness campaigns, infrastructure development and incentives are also needed.

The environmental and economic case for moving from a linear economy to a circular economy are not only practical, but are increasingly being demanded by consumers and governments around the world. While old habits die hard, global trends are driving businesses to rethink product design, supply chains, collection systems, consumer education, partnerships with governments and the waste management sector, etc.  The solutions exist today. What is needed is the management will and the desire to bring about change on a large scale.

Co-written by Nicholas Eng, Laura Allen, and Abishek Balasubramanian.

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06 Jan “We thought the oceans were too big to fail, but now we know”

Oceans produce over half of all the oxygen we breathe, and absorb more than 25% of all atmospheric CO2. And though they cover about 71% of the earth’s surface, we’ve only explored less than 5%. And while most of us are only barely aware of the enormity and scale of the waters we live surrounded by, we had the opportunity to speak to someone who has spent the past 50 years in the world’s oceans – Dr. Sylvia Earle. We met Dr. Earle late last year when she was the keynote speaker at the NUS SDG Conference, and she shared with us her insights the waters we live surrounded by.

Being one of the earliest explorers of the oceans and having led more than a hundred expeditions logging over 7,000 hours underwater, she spoke to me about the changes she’s seen first hand as a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence – that the biggest problems facing the oceans today are “what we are putting into the oceans, and what we are taking out of the oceans.” as can be seen from the 8 million tons of plastic that go into the oceans each year, and the how in the short span of 40 years, half of all marine life has been lost.

Impact on businesses

With 90% of all goods worldwide being shipped through oceans, most companies’ continued existence is tied to our waters. In addition to this, the oceans have an estimated value of $24 trillion – the sheer economic benefit we gain from them is reason enough to tidy up our act, starting with plastic waste.

“Plastics, especially single-use throw away plastics just doesn’t make any sense,” laments Earle. It is one of the reasons why an equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the oceans every minute. The worst part is, Asia is the major culprit contributing to plastic waste in the oceans – with 60% of ocean plastic waste coming from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This is particularly problematic because Asia has always been seen as a profitable hub for many businesses all around the world.

Innovative Solutions that Exist Today

Thankfully, there are solutions that exist today to begin addressing these challenges. Some of you may have already watched the TED talk by by Boyan Slat, founder of The Ocean Cleanup – the “world’s first feasible concept to clean the oceans of plastic.” Making use of the oceans’ natural currents, floating plastic is caught through solid screens and a V-shaped array, that filters the plastic waste, while allowing marine life to pass through without getting caught.

Image Credit: Erwin Zwart/The Ocean Cleanup

Cleaning up the oceans is the damage control, but preventive measures must also be taken. As Earle says, “there are things that can be done, alternatives to packaging that are more efficient, cost effective and environmentally sound ways for shipping goods from one place to another; we don’t have to wrap them in the ways that they have been before.”

Founded in 2010, Mango Materials, converts waste gases from landfills into biodegradable plastics. Apart from helping reduce the amount of plastics that end up in oceans, this also provides a responsible way to use the waste methane that’s generated in landfills across the world.

With regards to fishing, a startup that is working on preventive measures is Global Fishing Watch. Offering the first global view of commercial fishing activity, anyone can track what commercial fishing vessels are doing for free. This means that problems such as illegal fishing and habitat destruction can be identified at an early stage.

Image Credit: Global Fishing Watch

Embracing the Circular Economy

Ultimately, the only way to benefit from our oceans sustainably is to embrace the circular economy. As Ashwin summarises below, apart from solving the issues of waste, it can also provide employment and empower the millions of people working in the informal sector around the world.

Earle leaves us and businesses with one piece of advice. “Look in the mirror, what are you doing? What are the sources of the problems? And go back to the source, and then do what you can, armed with knowledge, and fix it.”

This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose.

Download our latest 15-page report on OCEANS in Asia.

View our 2-min visual on OCEANS in Asia.

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02 Dec Food – the low hanging fruit in tackling Climate Change

Current global food systems are one of the key causes of climate change. Apart from the obvious resources – water and land use for growing, carbon emissions from transportation, energy and plastic for packaging – there is another insidious problem – food waste. We recently had a chance to speak with Gwyneth Fries, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future to get some insights into the nature of these challenges.

Food Waste contributes to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions (with 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide). To put things in perspective, the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gases are China and USA respectively, but if food waste were to be a country, it would be third. In Singapore alone in 2015, there were 785,500 tonnes of food waste generated. This could fill up 670 Olympic-size swimming pools! Luckily, food waste is also the easiest one to tackle.

Who is responsible?

Farmers and Supermarkets

In America, supermarkets are throwing away 10% of the food that they sell at their stores because they overstocked, or are past their expiration date. But wait, that’s not all! Before food is even sold by supermarkets, an estimated 30% of food that is grown by farmers is rejected because they are ‘ugly’. That is to say that ⅓ of food that is grown for human consumption, doesn’t even leave the farm because they are not the right shape or size, or have some kind of physical imperfections.

Food Services (Restaurants, hotels, food centres)

Unsurprisingly, food service operators have a huge part to play in contributing to food waste. Food waste generated by food services have been estimated at 10%. That is just purely food that has been purchased, but are thrown out before that make it to the diner’s table. And additional 17% of food is thrown out once they reach the diners, people like you and I – everyday consumers.

Consumers

It’s not jarringly obvious to us, but when we leave that half-eaten plate of rice because we ordered too much, or throw away that can of expired sardines that we left at the back of our cabinets – we are contributing significantly to food waste.

Like most things, we are unable to fathom the scale of our individual actions in comparison to the larger scheme of things. But did you know that of the total amount of food waste, 33% is contributed by consumers themselves? That means that approximately 259,050 tonnes of food wasted in Singapore is because of consumers throwing away their food!

What can we do?

Now that we have identified the main culprits, there are some simple steps that we can all take to reverse the trend of food waste.

Farmers and Supermarkets

Take the lead in educating the public that ‘ugly’ food is the same as other food and start selling it in store. The mindset that “ugly” fruits and vegetables are not fit for consumption needs to be changed. Currently 65% of Singaporeans are willing to purchase such produce at a lower price, which is a good start. What this means for farmers and supermarkets is to not throw out these ‘ugly’ food – it makes no financial sense – and if they educate consumers to purchase such food from the bottom up, then from the top down, they need to make it available for consumers to purchase too!

Food Services

There are many ways in which food services can reduce their food waste, such as donating their leftover food to organisations like the Food Bank so that they can be distributed to the needy. Or, take the lead from Marina Bay Sands, which measures and analyses food wastage information to be able to prepare appropriate quantities subsequently. Or go a step further and make use of machines to convert food waste into non-potable water that can be disposed of into the sewers. We spoke to Kevin Teng, Head of Sustainability at MBS, on other ways in which they are tackling food waste.

Consumers

Do not over-order. It’s just that simple! Order what you can consume, and if you need to, tell the uncle at the economical rice stall that you want less rice, they are more than willing to oblige. Or if you fall into the trap of buying too much food from your local supermarkets when they are having a promotion, and then forgetting to consume them before their expiration date, then download an app called Foodfully where you can be reminded of when your food is close to expiration. Alternatively, if you want to save some extra cash, then download a app called pareup where you can stay updated on where to buy fruits and vegetables that are close to their ‘expiration’ date, at a discounted price!

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FoodFully, an app that seamlessly integrates food purchases and provides spoilage notifications so you remember to eat food before it happens!

Waste no time in reducing food waste

It’s clear that everyone has a part to play, right from the beginning of the supply chain – with the farmers – to the end – with the consumers. There are so many simple steps that can be taken to reduce food waste almost instantaneously. And not only does it save you money, it impacts food security and the environment as well. With the myriad of technological innovations that can simplify the process, there’s no better time than now to begin!

This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose.

Download our latest 15-page report on FOOD in Asia.

View our 2-min visual on FOOD in Asia.

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