Rémi Cesaro
Founder & Director - Zero Waste City
Rémi's Introduction

Founder and Director of the consulting business Zero Waste City, Rémi provides engineering consulting services to large commercial and industrial facilities on waste management, energy efficiency, and packaging design.

He has gained a strong experience as a consultant covering a wide range of industries and technologies in New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore.

He is a certified TRUE Advisor (Total Resource Use Efficiency) by the U.S. Green Building Council Inc. This certification recognised his knowledge in Zero Waste programs and his ability to support businesses to achieve the TRUE Zero Waste certification.

What are the questions companies often ask you? how do you answer them?

There are two main reasons why companies would contact me: reduce waste or make their packaging more sustainable.

In the first case of waste reduction, either to reduce costs or to be more sustainable business, I would ask them three questions:

  • How much waste do you generate per year?
  • How much do you spend on waste collection per year?
  • What is your current recycling rate?

Based on the answers, I can estimate the potential cost savings and make suitable recommendations on the immediate next steps.

When willing to improve packaging to make it more sustainable, I would ask:

  • What is the practical application of your packaging and who are the end-users?
  • What does matter the most to you: Reduce the weight of packaging? Make packaging out of renewable and local sources? Have the lowest carbon footprint, the lowest water consumption, or make it fully recyclable in Singapore?

Based on the above, we can determine the next steps to get the best outcome for the business.

What are the new regulations that will impact businesses in Singapore?

As part of its engagements in the Zero Waste Masterplan, Singapore will enforce a series of new regulations in the coming 5 years:

  • Extension of the Mandatory Waste Reporting to large businesses by 2020
  • Implementation of the Mandatory Packaging Reporting to all businesses with a turnover above $10M importing or using packaging by 2021
  • Implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility on e-waste by 2021
  • Implementation of a Deposit Return Scheme on containers by 2022
  • Mandatory separation of food waste from large businesses by 2024
  • Implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility on packaging by 2025

Those new regulations are exciting opportunities for businesses to achieve substantial cost savings and for Singapore to build a more sustainable and liveable environment.

We hear that improving waste management in a company results in cost savings, is it correct? How much waste reduction do you usually observe and how much savings does it represent?

Yes, and sometimes, we are even talking about making money out of the trash! The amount of cost-savings depends on the type of waste and the industry. As a rule of thumb, it can easily reach about 60% of the annual cost of general waste collection.

The easier it is the separate the major waste streams (plastic, fibre, organic, metal, glass), the more money the business is likely to save.

Are there challenges specific to Singapore?

In Singapore, the number one challenge is land scarcity. This applies to businesses as well. Utilities (water, energy, and waste) usually represent 10% of the footprint of a facility and anything that can be done to minimise it will be preferred.

Fortunately, Singapore strongly support the local industries in adopting best practices and funding is available for companies willing to implement new technologies to reduce waste, this includes the 3R Fund.

What is important to understand about the coming Mandatory Packaging Reporting framework?

The Mandatory Packaging Reporting (MPR) is the prequel to the Extended Producer Responsibility on packaging. An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a framework in which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.

Prior to the implementation of the EPR on packaging (expected in 2025), companies are required to comply with the MPR which will be fully enforced in 2021. Under the MPR, companies will have to report the amount of packaging introduced to Singapore and provide a plan to improve packaging, the 3R Plan. The earlier and the better companies improve their packaging, the cheaper it will be for them in the near future.

What are you most proud of?

In 2019, I did two interventions at the ACS International School. As a result of these interventions, and thanks to the leadership of the educational and management teams, the school has implemented several opportunities to improve the use of resources, which include:

  • Installation of e-waste bins on campus
  • Installation of blue recycling (metal, glass, plastic) bins on campus
  • Revision of the whole paper recycling program to use less paper
  • Creation of a Sustainability CCA (Co-Curriculum Activity). Students will now be in charge of collecting data on food, waste, electricity and water, and general waste bins
  • Identification of a group of Year 3 leaders to manage information from each House
  • Parent group to buy bio cutlery and plates and to promote gift which is reusable for Teacher Day.
What would be your top 3 advice to The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?
  • Anything you can do to reduce the environmental impact is a good place to start.
  • Sustainability is about the environment and business resilience. If you have the choice, always favour opportunities that save money.
  • Everybody has an interest in promoting sustainable practices, you just need to speak the right language.
How could you help The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?
  • Help to navigate the opportunities and identify those with the best outcomes
  • Understand the challenges and technical difficulties around energy efficiency, waste management and packaging.

Rémi kindly accepts to answer your questions.
If you need additional insights, you can send him a message.