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Waste management firms should develop competitive advantages to expand overseas: Chan Chun Sing

Waste management firms should develop competitive advantages to expand overseas: Chan Chun Sing

A worker loads the waste collected in the blue bins into a truck to be transported to the sorting facility. (Photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: Waste management companies should build up “capabilities” that “few other people can have” so they can look abroad, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Thursday (May 11). 

“Once we have achieved that competitive advantage, then we can scale, and we can look at the regional market,” Mr Chan said at a virtual interview during his visit to 800 Super.

Mr Chan said the waste management provider was a good example of a company on that path. It had integrated its operations such that its biomass plant and sludge treatment plant, which generates steam and electricity, is able to power its laundry facilities. 

READ: Singapore unveils Green Plan 2030, outlines green targets for next 10 years

In January, 800 Super announced it had secured a US$46 million 10-year waste management and transportation contract in Cambodia through a joint venture. 

“Once we have the capabilities in house … then we can go forth to other parts of the region to also provide such services, ” Mr Chan said, adding that there is much growth potential in the waste management industry because of growing concerns over environmental sustainability. 

“After they go green, they can really grow green.”

Commentary: Why does Singapore still lack a recycling ethos?

Singapore's environmental services sector has around 2,100 companies and 80,000 workers, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The waste management industry is part of the sector along with cleaning and pest management service providers. 

As for attracting workers to the sector, Mr Chan said the first thing to address is people's impression of it. The modern waste management plant, he said, is much more high-tech, and not dangerous and dirty as many might view it. 

Younger engineers may also be attracted to the challenge of constructing energy-efficient plants where one part of the operations powers another, he said. 

And once firms go international, they will be able to bring in the workers they need, he added. 

READ: Up to 3,000 workers in waste management sector to benefit from new progressive wage model

“If we can help our companies to expand the footprint in the region, and they run different operations in different parts of the region, and when they achieve the economies of scale, they will also be able to bring in people from different parts of the region,” he said.

“You will also help Singapore to attract the best engineers from around the region … to come and complement our talent pool in developing this industry.”

Source: CNA/rp(cy)

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