2 primary schools, Singtel get President's Award for Environment for their green efforts

(From left) Elias Park Primary School principal Chua Pei Pei, Mee Toh School principal Wang-Tan Sun Sun and Singtel's group sustainability vice-president Andrew Buay at the President's Award for the Environment on Sept 26, 2019. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Old habits die hard when it comes to adopting environmentally friendly practices, so some schools are making sure they plant the seeds of green living in the younger generation.

One school that has been nurturing their students to think in eco-friendly ways is Mee Toh School.

Every Wednesday for the past two years, hundreds of pupils from the primary school in Punggol will bring recyclables collected at home to school as part of its recycling programme.

The items, including newspapers, plastic bottles, drink cans and clothing, are weighed and sorted by class representatives with the help of parent volunteers at the school's recycling station, before they are bagged and sent for recycling the next day.

The programme is one of the initiatives put in place by the school to teach its pupils a message - There is only one Mother Earth, and everyone has a responsibility to protect it - said school principal Wang-Tan Sun Sun.

Since about a decade ago, the school has also been monitoring energy and water consumption on its premises.

Last year, it used more than 7 per cent less electricity than in 2017 by switching to light-emitting diodes (LED) lighting for some of its common rooms, and by teaching pupils the importance of conserving energy and water, said Mrs Wang-Tan.

These efforts won the school the President's Award for the Environment (PAE) at the 13th edition of the awards on Thursday (Sept 26) at the Istana .

The accolade is the highest nod of approval given to individuals, educational institutions and organisations in Singapore for their contributions towards environmental sustainability.

Past recipients of the award include Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Institute of Technical Education and Dr Shawn Lum, president of Nature Society Singapore, a non-profit conservation group.

Mrs Wang-Tan said: "This award will encourage us to continue seeding the values, skills and knowledge for environmental sustainability in all the young who pass through our hands."

President Halimah Yacob, who presented the award to Mee Toh School as well as two other recipients, Elias Park Primary School and Singtel, said: " We need everyone's support to face growing environmental challenges, such as climate change."

She added that she hopes more individuals and organisations will follow in the footsteps of the award recipients and contribute to a sustainable and climate-resilient Singapore.

Award recipient Elias Park Primary has been active in educating young learners on the value of going green.

It has had a food waste management programme in place since 2016. Pupils are taught to place plant-based food waste, such as fruit peels, into the four electronic bio-digesters in the canteen.

Each day, these bio-digesters produce about 2kg of fertiliser, which are used for the plants in the school, said Mr Stan Lee, head of its science department.

Singtel, which is the first telecommunications company to earn the accolade since the award's inception in 2006, was one of 28 global companies to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 earlier this year.

Its group chief executive, Ms Chua Sock Koong, said the company was honoured to be recognised for its sustainability efforts, made possible by the "hard work and active participation" of its employees.

She added: "Tackling climate change has become the defining issue for society today and it is incumbent on businesses to lead the way.

"We see sustainability as vital to our long-term growth as it creates opportunities for new ways of working that will drive greater efficiency."

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