Ms. Namrata Singh, Executive Director, Charan Jeath Singh Group
The Pacific Green Business Centre had an interview with Ms Namrata Singh on the South Pacific Waste Recyclers, a subsidiary of the Charan Jeath Singh Group.
Q1. Charan Jeath Singh Group has been running a waste recycling business for some years. How and why was this business started and what are the major hurdles you had to overcome?
The foundation of thought for the recycling business was laid when we realised that Fiji, as a leading nation in the South Pacific, could do more in terms of creating a sustainable country to ensure the natural beauty of Fiji remains for future generations.
Charan Jeath Singh Group of Companies proceeded to invest $6million in 2012 to kick start the fight for Fiji’s environment by acquiring the necessary equipment to commission the first ever paper recycling plant in the Fiji.
Our aim is to create a sustainable society where recycling is the normal routine of businesses and individuals alike. South Pacific Waste Recyclers takes a huge step in the right direction of fulfilling this aim. With a 24-hour operation, 12 tonnes of waste paper is processed that would otherwise end up as general rubbish. The waste paper is converted into 7 tonnes of good paper, which is then used to manufacture toilet tissues. Retailing as “Nambawan Toilet Tissue,” this product is made from 100% recycled paper. Despite the recycled nature of the product, the focus is definitely quality for consumers, as well as a competitive price.
As with any start-up business, there are many hurdles to jump over. Some of the major hurdles we have faced are:
Changing the habits of the people and businesses of Fiji. We’re trying to drive home the fact that if we don’t take care of our Islands, the beauty may be lost. Recycling should be seen as the way forward, instead of the current method of burning waste paper and rubbish, which affects the ozone layer when harmful chemicals called dioxide and furans are emitted through the air. The main hurdle here with business is to change the bureaucratic processes within their systems to allow for a recycling component.
Secondly, we receive a lot of non-paper items coming through in the paper recycling bins. It is a challenge to sort out the rogue items from paper, putting a strain on our resources.
Finally, we need more paper! To have a viable operation, we need more input material. We’re pushing to increase the percentage of used paper that is recycled, instead of being thrown out or burnt as rubbish. We work with businesses to create a pick-up system to help facilitate this change.
We realise that being a subsidiary of a larger outfit, the Charan Jeath Singh Group of Companies, the onus is on us to be the catalyst for change.
We try to recycle all our waste paper and develop a culture of sustainability throughout the company.
Relaying the recycling philosophy to our youth is very important, as they are the future of our country. This is done through school visits, as well as encouraging students to visit our plant in order to understand the operations first-hand and gain a better grasp of the importance of recycling.
Going forward, plans are underway to engage in a nationwide recycling awareness programmes, including specifically the villages and outer islands of Fiji, where the old harmful processes are engrained into habit.
Q3. Like any other business your company has energy and transport needs that impact on the environment. What are your plans in making green gains in these areas? Can you see your company becoming carbon neutral in the future? How could you achieve that?
One area we have identified is the amount of power used by our businesses. The technology around Solar Power has improved dramatically over the past few years and is something we have been investigating at length.
We have seen great advances with electric vehicles in the automotive industry and there are exciting plans for commercial fleets to head in the same direction.
As this and other green initiatives become available and economically viable, we will look into ways on how to adopt the technology and methods in our day-to-day business operations. With the way it is heading, we believe that carbon neutrality is becoming more of a reality than a dream and a position we can see ourselves operating in.
Q4. How many people do you employ? Do you see growth in number of Green jobs in Fiji?
We currently employ 93 full time personnel at our factory site, excluding the distribution and retail arms of the business. Despite there being scope to further automate the facility, we have chosen to keep a semi-automatic operation and retain staff members, which also helps the family and communities of those people.
We have certainly seen growth and interest in the number of Green Jobs in Fiji. We believe that as society perceptions move towards a green and sustainable environment, businesses will be inclined to move with the trends and create opportunities that enable more time, energy, resources and effectively further employment in the Green sector.
Q5. How do you suggest the Pacific Green Business Centre could collaborate with your company to ensure business in Fiji becomes more sustainable?
It is important to create a community of like minded individuals and businesses striving towards the common goal of a clean, green and sustainable Fiji.
We will all need to work together to spread the word of recycling and change collective mindsets and engrained harmful habits, such as burning rubbish.
The Pacific Green Business Centre can engage in a collaborative effort with us to achieve this goal, either through information events, media releases or any other ideas. A good start would be to establish working groups to further brainstorm solutions and methods of enhancing education.