Greening the red dot: Eco Action Day launches in Singapore

Singapore’s largest business-led environmental awareness campaign, Eco Action Day, returns this year with a new look and theme to rally both organizations and individuals to pledge actions that are positive for the environment on World Environment Day.

Japanese multinational electronics firm Ricoh today launched the annual Eco Action Day campaign in Singapore, with a renewed call for organisations and individuals to pledge simple changes in their everyday routines to reduce energy and resource consumption on World Environment Day.

The campaign this year features a new look and theme - Green the Red Dot, Join the Movement - which urges businesses and the wider public to green Singapore, also known as the “little red dot” because of the way it is marked on many world maps.

It is closely aligned with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) World Environment Day theme, ‘Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level’. The UN has designated 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and WED this year shines the spotlight on the urgency to help islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities as a result of climate change.

Eco Action Day, Singapore’s largest business-led environmental awareness campaign, provides a platform for organisations and individuals to pledge to carry out actions on June 5 to reduce their energy and resource use at work and at home, in a wider effort to tackle climate change. 

Examples of pledges made by organisations include carrying out an office recycling drive, setting all office air conditioning to 25°C, and encouraging staff to bring their own containers for takeaway food. To encourage individuals and companies to adopt meaningful pledges, and recognise them for their efforts, Ricoh also launched the Eco Action Awards in 2012.

Since the inaugural Eco Action Day in 2007, the campaign has engaged over 300 organisations from the private sector, government sector and educational institutions to commit to reducing energy and resource use in the workplace.

Energy consumption is the main reason for greenhouse gas emissions in Singapore. Individuals and organisations alike can help to address climate change by taking part in Eco Action Day and reducing energy consumption – by using more energy efficient appliances and transport.

Yuen Sai Kuan, director of the National Climate Change Secretariat’s 3P Network Division

“A large proportion of Singapore’s population spend at least a third of each day in the office; the office sector also consumes a lot of energy for its daily operations. As a company which provides energy-efficient office products and services to our client, we found it relevant and meaningful to initiate this nationwide campaign to encourage every employee in every organisation to do their part to save energy and resources in the office,” said Masayo Hada, Manager of Regional Environmental Management Group, Ricoh Asia Pacific.

Government, private sector and NGO partners of the campaign, now in its eight year, include the National Climate Change Secretariat, National Environment Agency, Building and Construction Authority, Energy Market Authority, Singapore Environment Council, Singapore Compact for CSR, Singapore Business Federation, Keppel Land, Keppel Reit, Comfort Delgro and Eco-Business.

To further commemorate World Environment Day this year, Ricoh and Eco-Business will be hosting the inaugural Eco Action Day Forum as part of the campaign featuring a plenary discussion on “Small island states and sustainable development: Singapore’s experience”.

Business, government and civic society leaders will participate in a dialogue which will focus on discussing successful strategies implemented by Singapore to address climate change and pursue sustainable development, and the role of the private sector and civil society in advancing the national sustainability agenda.

“We hope that by introducing this forum, we will help raise the awareness of challenges faced by countries, especially island states, in the wake of climate change. Singapore provides a great case study in this respect, as it has had to balance economic growth with sustainable development and its experience will offer lessons and food for thought for this year’s World Environment Day,” said Masayo.

Yuen Sai Kuan, director of the National Climate Change Secretariat’s 3P Network Division, added: “Energy consumption is the main reason for greenhouse gas emissions in Singapore. Individuals and organisations alike can help to address climate change by taking part in Eco Action Day and reducing energy consumption – by using more energy efficient appliances and transport.”

An organisation that has been taking part in Eco Action Day since 2007 is Senoko Energy.

Eco Action Day 2014 launches with a newly-revamped website and theme. 

“Eco Action Day is a symbolic day to remind everyone of the importance of being responsible, and being involved in leading the way towards a sustainable future. It is a rallying opportunity to instill healthy competition amongst employees to achieve savings while maintaining quality and productivity”, said Mr Kwong Kok Chan, vice president, Environment & Quality department, Senoko Energy.   

“Senoko supports peer organisations in environmental initiatives so that we build a network of reliable partners in this area of sustainability”, he added.

Ricoh launched the Eco Action Awards in 2012 to engage organisations to reduce energy use in the workplace. “We wanted to recognise companies who go the extra mile on World Environment Day”, explained Hada. 

In 2013, the Eco Action Awards featured categories such as ‘Most Creative Action Award’, and ‘Most Energy Saved Award’, for which companies were rewarded for the savings achieved, and the level of commitment to environmental stewardship displayed through their pledges.

Eco Action Day is a symbolic day to remind everyone of the importance of being responsible, and being involved in leading the way towards a sustainable future. It is a rallying opportunity to instill healthy competition amongst employees to achieve savings while maintaining quality and productivity.

Kwong Kok Chan, vice president, Environment & Quality department, Senoko Energy

For example, Glaxo Wellcome Manufacturing won the ‘Most Energy Saved’ award in 2012 for turning off office air conditioning earlier than usual, while Keppel Land won the ‘Most Creative Action’ category for a series of activities for staff to raise environmental awareness.

Going beyond outreach to organisations, Ricoh introduced a pledging mechanism for employees and other individuals in 2013.  Incentives such as iPad Minis and Starbucks Gift Cards were offered to individuals to encourage them to participate.

Language instructure Roel Sharp, 27, took part in Eco Action Day last year by pledging to put her laptop to sleep during lunch hour, read documents on her screen rather than printing, and uploading a photo of a daily green practice daily on photo sharing application Instagram, amongst other steps.

She shared with Eco-Business: “I decided to participate because of the appeal of the prizes, and it wasn’t too difficult to do things like turning off lights and lowering the temperature of air conditioning, and recycling. Saving water proved to be particularly challenging, though”. She said some of the actions she pledged to undertake turned into long-term habits.   

To date, the 300 organisations that have participated in past campaigns have collectively achieved an estimated savings equivalent to 83,980 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, Ricoh estimates, which is approximately the energy used by 15 four-room HDB flats over a year.

For 2014, the company hopes that at least 100 organisations and 200 individuals will pledge to make small changes to their behaviour and help the campaign achieve a targeted energy savings of 20,000 kWh.

For Eco Action Day, and other environmental stewardshop initiatives, Ricoh has received many accolades. The company has received a Special Mention Green Champion Award at International Singapore Compact CSR Awards 2013, and was rated Global 100 most sustainable as corporations in the world during the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos.

Pledge your environmental action for Eco Action Day here.

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