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SMF launches CSOaaS decarbonisation programme to help SMEs in Singapore - TGH Technology and Business Portal/Blog

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) inaugural Manufacturing Day Summit 2024 was held earlier in January 2024, launching the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)-as-a-Service [CSOaaS] decarbonisation programme that will help manufacturers assess their sustainability position, prioritise improvements with the most significant impact, to develop an actionable roadmap and submit data, including greenhouse gas emissions (GHG Scope 1 and 2) to Gprnt.ai, an integrated social and governance (ESG) data platform launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to generate internationally-compliant reports.

While Singapore is a small island state that many people won’t think too much about her manufacturing sector, this is Singapore’s most significant driver of nominal GDP (21.6%) [1]. The topic of sustainability is getting even more important and significant. Companies in the manufacturing sector need to start reporting emission numbers or risk losing out to competitors, as many of them are suppliers for international partners who will soon need to submit reports about their carbon footprint fo their supply chain.

The topic of sustainability has been on my key topics of interest that I am working to write and cover more in-depth over the past few years. Some of the sectors that I have been looking at are the travel and tourism sectors. My previous local SME working experiences (and in some parts related to the manufacturing sector) came in handy as I was listening to the launch of CSOaaS with great interest. The topics of sustainability, SME solutions and technology coming together during this media launch announcement of the CSOaaS programme.

SMF is the largest national organisation representing the interests of manufacturing organisations, they are working closely with their members to address the challenges that SME manufacturers face on their sustainability journey. Costs are a major concern for local SMEs, they cannot afford to hire dedicated staff to plan and oversee sustainability initiatives due to limited resources and, as a result, the local SMEs are unsure about where to begin.

CSOaaS programme

The CSOaaS programme will adapt from the Green CompassTM for the local manufacturing sector. This programme will handhold SMEs through their sustainability transformation, assessing their sustainability gaps and prioritising improvements based on financial and strategic impacts.   

The Green CompassTM was first developed by A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), TÜV SÜD and JTC, and has been highly subscribed to date. SMF-appointed Sustainability Consultants attached to the companies will translate the findings into actionable decarbonisation roadmaps to reduce carbon emissions.

Upon implementation of Green CompassTM programme, the Sustainability Consultants will also help companies submit the relevant data, that includes greenhouse gas emissions (GHG Scope 1 and 2) [2], to Gprnt.ai.

The CSOaaS programme uses Gprnt.ai, the Gprnt.ai environmental, social and governance (ESG) data platform [3] to simplify the sustainability reporting process. Importantly, Gprnt.ai aligns with international reporting standards like the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), ensuring global compliance and recognition.

Mr Lennon Tan, President of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, said, “SMF is at the forefront of leading local manufacturers into the next industrial era — Industry 5.0. We work with partners to keep a pulse on shifting trends so that we can help our members navigate a fast-paced global market. CSOaaS, the AMTA Playbook, and the APAC Green Alliance (APAC-GA) are key initiatives driving this larger vision. With CSOaaS, our goal is to help strengthen the resilience of Singapore’s manufacturing industry, which will, in turn, drive tomorrow’s innovations.”

SMF is also proud to be a founding member of the APAC-GA alongside the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA), Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), and the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

SMF will play an active role in advocating and promoting Green Excellence for both Manufacturing (GEM) and Non-manufacturing SMEs (Green Excellence in Business, GEB), future-proofing small businesses through capability development, standards development, tools such as carbon accounting, sustainability reporting etc. Other roles include advisory support and forging industry recognition. SMF’s objective is to collectively strive towards a net-zero goal and be ready for Industry 5.0.

APAC-GA will also assess the the post-implementation progress of the companies that undergo the CSOaaS programme and confer a Green Excellence for Manufacturing (GEM) Mark [4] according to their progress. The APAC-GA is also joined by Knowledge Partner, A*Star to support standards development and share industry best practices.

Why was CSOaaS developed?

The CSOaaS programme was developed and launched to meet the looming deadlines for sustainability compliance worldwide, as well as the need to support local manufacturing companies needing help to do so.

In Singapore, listed companies start reporting from 2025, as for large non-listed companies, they start from 2027. These companies must also report their supply chain’s carbon footprint, including emissions from SMEs.

Although non-listed SMEs are not required to report their carbon footprint, if they are suppliers to companies, local or international, they are obligated to comply, or they risk losing that business. Therefore, SMEs are particularly vulnerable.

According to a 2023 survey [5] of 115 manufacturing companies, of which 82% are SMEs, only 21% report on sustainability, while 45% have no plans to do so within the next 1 to 3 years.

Another study [6] of primarily SMEs indicates that the lack of expertise is a sizeable problem, with 34% of companies finding it challenging without an ESG specialist, 31% struggling to understand reporting standards, and 29% lacking technical know-how to plan and execute. Only 37% have a clear roadmap, and 72% need to hire skilled talents to run ESG projects.

Companies with well-documented ESG metrics makes them working with MNCs and other large corporations easier and will open doors to green loans and grants, that can be instrumental in spurring growth.

A spokesperson for XCEL said, “SMF CSOaaS helps us to develop new methodologies and framework with collective data for analysis, which strengthen our business strategy and continuity plans towards a more sustainable entity.”

Information on APAC-GA and CSOaaS

The Trade Association and Chamber (TAC) members of the APAC-GA are responsible for

  1. promoting the GEM / GEB Mark along with its associated tasks
  2. advisory support / consultancy to help companies embark on sustainability information
  3. training of certified consultants and auditors

The CSOaaS programme fee is between S$10,000 to $30,000 depending on the scope, and companies may tap into the following funding support:

1) Mentorship Support Grant (70-90%), through:

  • Singapore Polytechnic – Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

2) Career Conversion Programme (CCP), a company who applies for CSOaaS may also tap on the CCP to have an existing or new staff undergo the on-the-job training to become a Sustainability Lead / Facilitator in the future for their company, through:

  • SMF-CCL
  • Nanyang Polytechnic

Notes:

  1. [1]  https://www.singstat.gov.sg/modules/infographics/economy 
  2. [2] SMEs are not required to report GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2). However, the companies SMEs supply to (who need to comply with reporting) require this information to fulfil Scope 3.
  3. [3] https://www.mas.gov.sg/news/media-releases/2023/mas-launches-digital-platform-for-seamless-esg-data-collection-and-access 
  4. [4] Companies that underwent CSOaaS and implemented their strategies will be evaluated and awarded a GEM Mark Gold, Silver or Bronze according to their progress.
  5. [5] https://isca.org.sg/resource-library/sustainability/sustainability-transformation 
  6. [6] https://sponsored.bloomberg.com/immersive/dbs/catalysts-of-sustainability 

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