Directgreen is making an impact early in its life as it works to make shopping green. Founder of Directgreen Serve Sondeijker was honoured in Hong Kong last week (28 February) when he received the IAIR Global Sustainability Award 2014 for Best Company for Sustainability Eco Shopping South East Asia.
Singapore-based Directgreen was officially launched at the International Symposium on Ethical Purchasing and Green Purchasing Forum in Sapporo, Japan 6 February.
The Italian publishing company IAIR – which stands for International Alternative Investment Review – which organises the awards, gives special recognition to companies in the clean tech, green building sectors and those displaying leadership in corporate social responsibility and sustainability.
The organisers said that Directgreen was one of a number from Asia Pacific which triumphed as best companies for sustainability thanks to their commitment to green initiatives and eco-products. The other winners were Panasonic, REC Solar, Cardia Bioplastics, China Telecom, Clean Energy, Visionedge, Kismet Jardin and Fuji Electric.
Singapore-based Serve Sondeijker, founder of Directgreen said the award recognises the new business for its foresight in creating a customer sustainability programme that allows both shoppers and sellers to work together towards green purchases. It represents a valuable system to reduce operational costs, give businesses a competitive advantage, increasing profits in the long run.
When he launched the programme early in February, Mr Sondeijker said he was convinced that more and more consumers are becoming conscious of, and concerned about, the sustainability impact of their purchases. “This includes wanting to know about the origin of a product and whether it is responsibly sourced and produced, like Fair Trade coffee, for example”.
“So Directgreen allows retailers to start making sustainable investments, such as stocking more sustainable products or managing their business in a more sustainable fashion, at their own pace. And at the same time, they can assure customers of their sustainability credentials, ideally giving them a competitive edge,” he says.
Getting the message across that sustainability is good for business is an important aim of Directgreen, says Mr Sondeijker, because it can show where operational costs can be reduced through energy efficiency programmes, for example, or taking on a “green lease”, which is starting to happen in a number of shopping centres in Singapore.
Admitting that it is not easy for businesses to become sustainable overnight, Mr Sondeijker says, “With Directgreen, even the smallest retailer can start to benefit straightaway with only a small investment.”
Directgreen will work with local businesses and communities to provide a sustainability framework for companies so their customers know that their purchases are making a genuine difference.
Directgreen’s Sustainability Management System is GRI-certified, which means it is equipped with a reporting tool based on the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Compact frameworks. The tool is currently being updated with G4, the new GRI guidelines and is expected to be up and running in about 2 months.
Mr Sondeijker says that as an organisational stakeholder of GRI, Directgreen provides its partners and members with access to an internationally-adopted reporting system to measure and manage sustainability factors, making the benefits of sustainability more tangible for businesses.
Directgreen is also a member of the Social Enterprise Association of Singapore and Singapore Compact for CSR.
The work of a number of organisations, operating in Africa and Asia, will be supported through the Directgreen Foundation, which has been set up to manage funds raised through the programme.
The organisations include Nexus, Biogas Program and FairClimateFund. One example is a project developed in conjunction with the government of Vietnam, to convert animal waste to energy via biogas digesters, producing clean and affordable energy for cooking. It also reduces the health and environmental problems associated with animal waste and the use of wood fuel for cooking.
Ken Hickson, the Chairman and CEO of Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA) welcomes the introduction of a new sustainability programme like Directgreen, as it provides a practical way for consumers and retailers to learn about sustainability and to engage directly in a process with beneficial outcomes.
“It is also in line with the principles of the Green Purchasing Network, which I have agreed to promote in Singapore, to encourage awareness of, and the need to introduce, responsible and sustainable procurement policies in the public and the private sectors and to green the supply chain,” he said.
According to Mr Hickson, most European countries, as well as Japan and Taiwan, are putting meaningful emphasis on green purchasing, sustainable procurement and supply chain management. “Singapore has made an excellent start with schemes like Singapore Environment Council’s Green Label for products and the Green Mark programme for buildings, but more can be done to create consumer and retailer awareness,” he said.
Released by SASA and H2PC Asia on behalf of Direct Green Capital Pte Ltd.