Sheng Siong is one of Singapore’s top retailers, with over 60 stores island-wide today – also listed on the Mainboard of the Singapore Exchange since 2011. Sheng Siong recognises its responsibility to contribute towards Singapore’s goal of becoming a Zero Waste Nation, and views the conservation of resources as a key business objective.
This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by Sheng Siong published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.Tweet This!, monitoring and measuring the usage of its resources and waste streams. In order to treat waste responsibly Sheng Siong took action to:
- reduce food waste
- recycle waste
- reduce packaging waste
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With this case study you will see:
- Which are the most important impacts (material issues) Sheng Siong has identified;
- How Sheng Siong proceeded with stakeholder engagement, and
- What actions were taken by Sheng Siong to treat waste responsibly
What are the material issues the company has identified?
In its 2019 Sustainability Report Sheng Siong identified a range of material issues, such as customer satisfaction, food and product safety, employee engagement and development, governance and ethics, affordable food, occupational health, safety and well-being. Among these, treating waste responsibly stands out as a key material issue for Sheng Siong.
Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:
Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.
Key stakeholder groups Sheng Siong engages with:
|Stakeholder Group||Method of engagement|
|Customers||· Customer feedback forms (in-store and online)
· Customer service hotline and email
· Social Media
· Market research groups such as Nielsen
|Employees||· Regular staff meetings and dialogue sessions
· Orientation programmes for new employees
· Staff engagement events such as Family Day, Annual CNY Dinner, 7th Lunar Month Festival
· Grievance/ whistleblowing procedures
|· Regular business review sessions
· Supplier visits and audits
· Annual meetings with key suppliers
|· Regular update meetings
· Participation in dialogue sessions organised by the authorities
· Relevant project and engagement meetings
|NGOs & Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs)||· Engagement meetings with NGOs & VWOs
· Participation in projects and/or volunteer activities
· Philanthropy and in-kind sponsorships
|· Media relations engagement
· Media monitoring
|Shareholders/ investors||· Regular investor relations meetings|
How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues
To identify and prioritise material topics Sheng Siong distributed an online survey to both internal and external stakeholders (including customers) to gather perspectives on the most important sustainability topics, collecting more than 1500 responses from employees across the business and 179 responses from external stakeholders including suppliers, government agencies, NGOs, VWOs, media and shareholders.
In its 2019 Sustainability Report Sheng Siong reports that it took the following actions for treating waste responsibly:
- Reducing food waste
- Sheng Siong has put in place sound purchasing and inventory management policies, excellent storage and food handling standards and systems, and adopted state-of-the-art packaging and processing techniques to prolong the shelf life of its products and produce. Sheng Siong also participates in Food Waste Reduction Campaigns headed by the National Environmental Agency (NEA). This includes putting up posters and signage in its stores to raise awareness and educate consumers to handle Sheng Siong’s fresh produce with care, to shop wisely and adopt good storage practices at home, so as not to waste food. “Reduced to Clear” sections have also been introduced since 2011, where fresh produce that is slightly blemished but still wholesome, or that are close to expiry are sold at reduced prices. Since 2017, Sheng Siong has been collaborating with NEA on a food waste co-digestion project, where source-segregated food waste collected from 13 of Sheng Siong’s stores and distribution centre is sent daily to a facility at Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant for co-digestion with used water sludge. This co-digestion process yields more biogas from the anaerobic digestion process compared to the treatment of used water sludge alone, thereby enhancing energy recovery. By 2019, the project was extended to all 59 stores including Sheng Siong’s distribution centre, and an estimated 3,035 tonnes of food waste generated was successfully diverted.
- Recycling waste
- Sheng Siong partners with its suppliers to reuse plastic crates for the supply of its fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and eggs. Styrofoam boxes that are typically used by suppliers to supply temperature-sensitive products are also washed, sanitised and reused internally. Excess styrofoam boxes are collected to be recycled. Sheng Siong sorts its waste conscientiously for recycling. A paper-compacting machine is used to compact carton boxes (collected from the stores) into cubes to reduce the space required for delivery to the recycling plant. Sheng Siong also recycles food waste, plastic, wooden pallets, stretched film, styrofoam boxes, cans and metals.
- Reducing packaging waste
- Sheng Siong has been a signatory to the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) since 2018. In 2019, Sheng Siong was conferred the Excellence Award (Multinational Company and Local Large Enterprise Category) by SPA for its exemplary efforts in reducing packaging waste. Some of the initiatives Sheng Siong continues to implement include:
- Reviewing packaging of its housebrand products: Packaging used for Sheng Siong’s housebrand products falls within the “Lightest” to “Median” range of the Packaging Benchmarking Database developed by the SPA, where information about the packaging of the product is available.
- Making a conscientious effort in the design and choice of packaging when developing new housebrand products.
- Working with suppliers to replace styrofoam packing with alternative materials such as paper cartons wherever possible without compromising on the freshness and quality of fresh food products.
- Collaborating with partners to continue raising awareness on the need to reduce plastic usage, and actions that every shopper can take.
- In 2019, Sheng Siong successfully reduced the use of pallet stretch film (used for wrapping and securing bulk cargo during transportation) by 22.5% compared to 2018 by switching to one of a different material specification. Sheng Siong also estimates that it has reduced the rate of usage of plastic bags by about 6.5%, as compared to 2018.
Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?
The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 306-2 Waste by type and disposal method
Disclosure 306-2 Waste by type and disposal method corresponds to:
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Targets: 3.9
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
- Targets: 6.3
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Targets: 12.4, 12.5
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1) This case study is based on published information by Sheng Siong, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:
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