SINGAPORE: In a compelling call to action, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam urged local businesses to expedite their green transformation efforts during an event on Friday (8 Dec) and warned that delays in adopting sustainable practices would inevitably lead to increased costs in the future.

The President’s remarks were made at the launch of the e-commerce platform Carousell’s Circular Economy Report, which analyzed the environmental impact of the Southeast Asian e-commerce market. The report highlighted the significance of buying and selling second-hand items as a means of protecting the environment.

President Tharman commended the Circular Economy Report as another step towards encouraging sustainable practices like reusing items and acknowledged that Singapore is still in the early stages of the necessary transition to more sustainable living but stressed the inevitability of the transformation.

He also highlighted the potential costs associated with the transition, noting that sustainable practices currently lack the economies of scale enjoyed by unsustainable practices.

The President asserted that, despite the immediate costs, the transition was essential to avoid even higher costs associated with global warming and the hidden costs of unsustainable practices such as excessive water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

While acknowledging that some costs are unavoidable during the transition, the President pointed out that many aspects of sustainable living come at no additional cost, particularly with the shift towards a circular economy. He urged businesses to transform their practices comprehensively, from sourcing materials to product delivery.

Consumers were not exempt from the call to action. President Tharman encouraged changes in dietary habits, such as reducing beef consumption, and emphasized the importance of reusing and extending the life of consumer products. He identified food waste and the fashion industry as critical areas, jointly responsible for approximately 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In addressing food waste, the President highlighted a growing movement in Singapore, with businesses emerging to upcycle food waste into valuable resources. He cited the upcoming law that will mandate proper segregation of food waste in various establishments to facilitate recycling and upcycling efforts.

President Tharman also said that fashion is another area people should reconsider, given its substantial contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and pollution. He lauded efforts to encourage reuse and emphasized the need for consumers to scrutinize the sustainability of materials when making purchasing decisions.

The President concluded by advocating for a cultural shift towards reuse, repair, and refurbishment, urging individuals to view such practices as a positive contribution to environmental conservation. He expressed confidence that by avoiding food waste, adopting sustainable fashion practices, and collectively embracing a circular economy, Singaporeans could contribute to keeping the planet livable for future generations. /TISG