Workers’ Party files questions over Singapore’s Shoe Recycling Program and “green-washing”

Workers’ Party files questions over Singapore’s Shoe Recycling Program and “green-washing”

SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party has filed questions in the upcoming parliamentary sitting on recycling programmes and “green-washing” by companies, following an investigation by Reuters which revealed that donated shoes meant for recycling under a shoe recycling programme were not recycled as planned.

The shoe recycling programme, which is run by Sport Singapore, aimed to recycle the rubberized soles and midsoles of donated shoes to build new playgrounds and running tracks around Singapore.

However, 11 pairs of shoes deposited by Reuters in donation bins around Singapore over six months in July 2022 were found to have been exported instead of being turned into exercise paths or children’s parks in Singapore as promised.

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong, a Member of Parliament from the Workers’ Party for Hougang SMC, has filed questions to the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment to ask why donated shoes were not recycled as planned and what mechanisms are in place to ensure that recycling programmes by state agencies and vendors are completed as promised.

Ms He Ting Ru, WP MP for Sengkang GRC, has filed a question to the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment on how the ministry can overcome challenges that may prevent more regular and public reporting on the efficiency and effectiveness of sustainability programmes that are implemented through third-party vendors.

Meanwhile, Mr Leon Perera, WP MP for Aljunied GRC, has filed a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry on how often enforcement actions have been taken under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act for greenwashing-related activities in the last five years, and whether the Ministry will consider working with the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore to expand the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice to explicitly cover greenwashing in non-financial products and services.

In response to the Reuters investigation, a joint media statement was issued by Sport Singapore and its partners such as Alba-WH, stating that they do not condone any unauthorised removal or export of shoes collected through the programme.

They added that measures would be taken to tighten up the process chain based on their learning from this incident.

The partners have since apologised to the public for the lapse and have expressed their hope that the public will continue to support the programme.

The statement also revealed that an investigation was led by Alba-WH, which showed that the supply chain was compromised at its contractor, Yok Impex’s premises, resulting in some shoes being extracted for resale instead of recycling.

Alba-WH has stopped sending collection bins to Yok Impex’s premises and will not be renewing its services.

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