SBF launches sustainability label

Ms Esther An receiving CDL's Sustainable Business Award 2014 in the category for large companies, flanked by Mr Lee Yi Shyan (left), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, and Mr Teo Siong Seng, Singapore Business F
Ms Esther An receiving CDL's Sustainable Business Award 2014 in the category for large companies, flanked by Mr Lee Yi Shyan (left), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, and Mr Teo Siong Seng, Singapore Business Federation chairman.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION

Companies here which have become more sustainable can now apply for a new industry-backed label to flaunt their achievements.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is launching a new accreditation label as a spin-off from its annual sustainability awards.

The Singapore Sustainability Label will reward firms with high standards of environmental and economic sustainability as well as those demonstrating corporate social responsibility, said SBF chief operating officer Victor Tay.

Criteria for the label - divided into four categories from bronze to platinum - are based on the existing SBF framework for the Singapore Sustainability Awards and modelled in particular on the Sustainable Business Award .

The label, to be given out yearly, is meant to recognise and encourage companies which may not clinch the fully fledged sustainability awards but which nonetheless have strong foundations with room to improve. Its platinum level of certification, roughly equivalent to winning an award, is tailored to companies which already have a medal under their belt.

"The awards are for excellence," said Mr Tay, while "the label is a baseline" of corporate sustainability practices.

He said the sustainability label would be beneficial to companies looking to internationalise in markets that have strict regulatory standards, such as European countries which require certified sustainable palm oil throughout the entire supply chain. When multinational corporations obtain such accreditation, he added, the Singapore Sustainability Label can come in handy for downstream suppliers and subcontractors as well.

Sustainability is also a way for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors and "sharpen (their) competitive edge", said Mr Tay, who believes that the label will help Singapore companies stand out in the region.

Clean energy company Sindicatum Sustainable Resources won a Sustainable Business Award in the category for small and medium-sized enterprises last year. Managing director Jay Mariyappan told The Straits Times that the Singapore-based firm, which was founded in Britain in 2005, thought that applying for the award "was an opportunity to get recognised in Singapore for something that is very much a part of our business model".

City Developments (CDL) also won a Sustainable Business Award last year, in the large enterprises category. Its chief sustainability officer Esther An said the company is interested in applying for the new sustainability label.

She believes that, like the Building and Construction Authority's Green Mark scheme, the four-tiered label system will encourage companies to compare practices and work consistently to improve their ranking, which will raise standards across the industry.

While applications are accepted year-round, SBF is expediting the usual three-month processing period for companies that want to receive their label before the Singapore Sustainability Awards dinner in October. Such firms should submit their applications to SBF by Aug 28.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'SBF launches sustainability label'. Print Edition | Subscribe