In the previous articles, we have ascertained that Singapore is a country that has achieved a remarkable standard of cleanliness and has a government that possesses a high consideration for sustainability while growing the economy, and was willing to make several inconvenient decisions through the course of its history to defend it position on environmental protection. Now that Singapore has established itself as one of the world’s most sophisticated economies, with the 6th highest GPD per capita in the world, how is the nation’s economy continuing its pursuit of sustainability today? For that we have to examine Singapore’s business scene, and how it is evolving.
Prioritising sustainability is not a natural pursuit for most firms who do not reap direct profits from it — in fact, making sustainability an organisational objective almost certainly increases the cost of operations and cost of production in the short-term. Firstly, some businesses would have to upgrade their capital goods or purchase addition equipment to ensure environmental friendliness. Secondly, greener materials are typically more expensive which would drive up the cost of production. The increased cost of production would then be translated into higher selling prices, which would be detrimental to business. The intrinsic price of a ‘green’ material (which can include recycled materials) is not greater than ‘non-green’ materials. According to Edwin Seah, Executive Director of Singapore Environment Council (SEC), “if you increase the demand for green products, it will help to bring the cost to almost the same as products which are not sustainably produced”.
Most businesses want to be more sustainable but need an impetus, a push toward it. That is where the government steps in. The Singapore government has many initiatives to give businesses this push. Most come in the form of subsidies and funding schemes over a broad category of aspects.
Energy Efficiency & Clean Energy
Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe)
This initiative, set up by the NEA, helps and provides funding for companies in the manufacturing and building sectors engage energy services companies to conduct energy audits and identify potential areas for energy efficiency improvements. This is beneficial for the company in the long run as they are able to save on energy costs.
Green Mark Incentive Scheme (GMIS)
The GMIS was set up by the BCA and URA to encourage both building developers (for new buildings at its design stage) and building owners (for existing buildings) to focus on energy efficient and to undertake energy improvements in their respective situations. Subsidies would be presented accordingly after the Green Mark has been awarded.
Water Efficiency Funds
This fund encourages firms to be efficient in their usage of water. Subsidies would be given to companies who hit a certain efficiency. Funding is also available for water recycling efforts and use of alternative source of water.
Green Transport and Shipping
Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS)
Newly imported cars that manage to achieve a certain level of emissions would qualify for rebates from LTA.
These are but 4 of the 35 initiatives started by the government as at 2015.
Besides government initiatives, some private companies like Green Future Solutions are providing consultancy services to help SMEs reduce costs, increase revenue, and become more sustainable promoting environmental awareness and action. Founding Director Eugene Tay believes that “business owners will be in a better position to build up their reputation and enhance their brand as a sustainable company. The business can then market its environmental practices or the environmental benefits of its products or services,” His aim is to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of their products throughout its life cycle, at every part of the value chain by exploring the demand for green products and services. The goal is to give them a competitive advantage while increasing environmental consideration.
- Tay, E (2015, February 16) Sustainability and Business in Singapore. Green Future Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.greenfuture.sg/2015/02/16/2015-guide-to-singapore-government-funding-and-incentives-for-the-environment/
- Tech in Asia (2012) How businesses in Singapore are going green. Techniasia. Retrieved from https://www.techinasia.com/how-businesses-are-going-green
- URA (n.d.) Planning for Long-term Sustainability. URA. Retrieved from https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/about-us/our-work/planning-long-term-sustainability.aspx
- Saad, I (2015) How companies are going green. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/how-singapore-companies/2189844.html