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SINGTEL

Aileen Tan

Group chief human resources officer

More than 46,000kg of e-waste – greater in weight than an upgraded T-72B3 Russian military tank. That’s how much Singtel has recovered through its three-year-old ReCYCLE programme that invites consumers to drop off unwanted electronic items at bins located at selected Singtel shops, Singtel exclusive retailers, post offices and Lock+Store outlets. 

This is just one of the many recycling initiatives under the communications giant’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) sustainability strategy. Through Singtel’s consumer trade-in scheme, end-of-contract phones are collected, refurbished, resold and reused in the market. It is also redesigning its product offerings to minimise packaging and waste.

“Climate change is an issue no one can afford to ignore. It has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions such as cyclones and bush fires, which we’ve felt keenly in our Australian operations. This drove home the need for urgent action,” shares Aileen Tan, group chief human resources officer. 

In 2017, Singtel became the first Asian company outside of Japan to have its science-based carbon reduction 2030 targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. This year, it committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. This is in support of the landmark science-based, sector-specific decarbonisation pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the information and communications technology sector – an initiative driven by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association. 

These big-picture policies are complemented by on-the-ground activations and community engagements. And while the organisation actively spreads the message and rallies support from consumers and industry partners alike, its commitment to minimising its environmental impact starts from within.

An annual initiative called Project LESS rallies staff to reduce waste, reuse plastic and recycle whenever possible. In 2019, to support Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste, The Last Straw campaign theme was called and Singtel staff were all given a lunch box and a set of utensils to use when purchasing takeaway food from the staff cafeterias. 

“Many continued to avoid disposable cutlery and straws even after the campaign ended. With our staff playing their part, we hope this mindset will rub off positively on their friends and family,” shares Tan. On a corporate level, Singtel also works with tech start-ups in the Future Makers social innovation programme. The organisation’s leaders and staff act as mentors to these start-up founders to develop innovations and digital solutions to address social and healthcare issues.

Indeed, while climate change and social responsibility  are issues that require governments and businesses to lead the charge, it is a long-term effort that involves a broad range of stakeholders working together. 

“We can’t do this alone. This will require a concerted effort and support from a broad range of stakeholders, including our partners and vendors, to achieve a positive outcome. As a corporate leader, we know we need to be proactive by leading, learning and sharing,” says Tan.

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