SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Parade (NDP) organisers worked closely with green groups to make the parade as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Since last December, the NDP Executive Committee had engaged with some 15 green groups to discuss what materials can be used to produce the NDP pack so that it is durable and environmentally friendly.
Other initiatives included reducing food waste and having conversations with members of the public to educate them about Singapore's sustainability efforts.
The NDP pack, previously known as the fun pack, contained 20 to 25 items in past years but has only four this year.
The pack holds a Singapore flag, one reusable water bottle containing Newater, hand sanitiser and a foldable fan.
Spectators on Saturday (Aug 21) were also given a poncho, in case of rain, and shakers to support artistes performing during the show segment.
The artwork on the foldable fans was designed by people with disabilities as part of a collaboration between SG Enable, an agency that serves their needs, and the NDP organisers.
The decision to make the NDP packs more environmentally friendly came after discussions with members of the public and environmental groups.
Brigadier-General Tan Cheng Kwee, chairman of the NDP 2021 executive committee, said that with prudence in mind, there were fewer items in the NDP pack this year.
Last year, the Singapore Together Packs attracted controversy online when it was announced that they would be distributed to every Singaporean and permanent resident household.
An online petition to opt out of receiving the packs garnered more than 110,000 signatures. Those in favour argued that resources could be better used in other causes, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to questions last year from three Members of Parliament who had received such feedback, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said then that the packs would be produced for about 80 per cent of all Singaporean and permanent resident households, down from the usual 90 per cent to 95 per cent.
This year, NDP packs were given only to parade-goers and all Primary 5 pupils.
Commending the sustainability efforts of the NDP organisers, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng said: "The National Day Parade is one of the largest-scale events here and we've shown that it is possible to move towards a zero-waste Singapore."
Mr Ng, who first posed a parliamentary question in 2019 on whether green alternatives to single-use plastic bottles could be provided, added: "None of the items in the NDP pack have single-use plastic packaging. Without a doubt, this is ground-breaking."
Besides the choice of items that were selected for the NDP pack, the pack itself was designed to be both reusable and recyclable.
It is made from DuPont-Tyvek, a material that is water-resistant and recyclable.
Mr Tan Shi Zhou, 24, a third-year materials science and engineering student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) who provided input for the material, said: "The NDP pack was designed with long-term usability in mind so that Singaporeans will want to use it again and again even after NDP."
Bye Bye Plastic Bags Singapore, another green group involved in discussions, staged a creative campaign to show how the NDP pack, which resembles a chicken rice package, can be styled with various outfits.
Besides the NDP pack, the organisers went the extra mile to make the parade more sustainable.
For instance, food waste digesters were provided at the F1 Pit Building, which serves as a holding area for parade performers. The machines convert leftovers from food provided to the performers into compost for landscaping or water for cleaning purposes.
There were also seven green ambassadors or volunteers who engaged parade performers on Singapore's efforts to go green.
One of them is NTU third-year environmental science undergraduate Shawn Ang, 23.
Said Mr Ang: "We shared about the process that has gone into the NDP pack and food waste reduction. But we also engaged them on issues they may be interested in, such as climate change and recycling."