Malls can influence customers to cut waste

The increase in Singapore's efforts towards becoming an environmentally friendly society through reduced wastage is worthy of commendation (Food-waste reduction guide for supermarkets launched as shopping malls are lauded for waste-cutting efforts; ST Online, Oct 13).

I especially applaud the Government's endeavour in using a rewards system as a tool, incentivising shopping malls and their tenants to improve their recycling, reducing and reusing methods.

Singapore has set up the 3R Awards for Shopping Malls, which seeks to provide a platform for consumers to identify malls that have made a "concerted effort" to do their part for the environment.

With malls practising these environmentally friendly habits,consumers like ourselves can be positively impacted as well.

For example, Kiehl's Singapore (a 3R Awards winner) encourages customers to return their empty product bottles and exchange them for stamp-redeemable gifts. This entices customers to recycle these bottles for material gain.

However, this brings up the question of whether such behaviour can be sustained if rewards are unavailable.

In 2015, what is possibly the world's first mall for repaired and recycled goods - ReTuna Aterbruksgalleria - opened in Sweden.

The mall itself is the recycling centre. Shoppers drop off products which mall employees refurbish or repair accordingly. This thus aids the mall in fighting a culture of disposability and waste.

Sweden thus emphasises the notion of recycling not for monetary incentives, but, rather, for the noble aspiration of doing one's part in building a sustainable environment for future generations.

If we could change our attitudes and realise the long-term benefits these environmental solutions could bring about, rather than rejecting them for our short-term satisfaction, Singapore could progress towards environmental change.

Rachel Tan Ying Xin (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2017, with the headline 'Malls can influence customers to cut waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe