Focussing on packaging and waste reduction as lower hanging fruits

Mr Kenny Koh, Group Managing Director (left) and Ms Xu Xue Ting, Executive Director (right)

As they prepare to move into a new building, Star International is also looking into how they can move up the sustainability ladder.

On top of pursuing GreenMark Gold for a greener building, they are looking into waste reduction, health & safety and community engagement as their areas of focus for sustainability.

Artist's Impression of Star International's New Corporate Building

A key driving force for the Star International team on their sustainability journey is positive peer influence by fellow SFIC members, who are collectively advancing towards more sustainable business models. Kenny’s trip to Copenhagen, Denmark as part of the SFIC Sustainable Business Model Transformation Mission Trip series has also inspired the Star International team. With a better understanding of international best practices in sustainability, they are looking forward to adapting these practices, to drive sustainability in the local furniture landscape.


Focusing on packaging as a start

Besides their efforts in health and safety by aligning with E1 low formaldehyde standards, Star International is focusing on sustainability in packaging as a lower hanging fruit. The team has been encouraging all their factories to switch their packaging from polystyrene (styrofoam) to recyclable cardboard (corrugated carton), and to recyclable plastic for upholstery and other products.

Star International has in place a reuse system for packaging – a packaging reuse bin is located in HQ for internal reuse, recycling or returning to suppliers. Their factory in Johor Bahru, Malaysia works with German company Alba for the recycling of packaging. Alba pays a small sum for their recyclables, which reflect how being more sustainable can yield some economic returns on top of the ‘feel-good’ factor.

As the Star International team is serious about pursuing more sustainable packaging across their value chain, they conducted a Supplier Packaging Survey in 2021. The team found that 50% of their suppliers used non-recyclable materials, and proceeded to assist their less sustainability-aligned suppliers in switching to more environmentally-conscious alternatives. Now, 70% of their factories and suppliers use recyclable materials for packaging.

The Star International team aims for this figure to rise to 90% in 1 to 2 years, subject to China’s quarantine regulations and other external supply chain disruptions. To help them reach this goal, packaging sustainability is now one of their selection criteria for new suppliers.

Besides packaging, Star International has also been working on waste reduction, which can contribute to environmental and social sustainability simultaneously. To minimise their bulky waste generation from discontinued furniture, they try as far as possible to clear them at very low prices.

The team donates the balance, along with some brand new furniture, to underprivileged families via their community partners on a needs-basis. Some of the partners they have worked with include the People’s Association, Cheng Hong, NKF and others.

One of Star International’s donated furniture pieces in a beneficiary’s home


Exploring actionables for more holistic sustainability

Moving forward, the Star International team is looking into leveraging greener energy. They are exploring the installation of solar panels for their new company premises, as the ROI on such an investment is at a manageable 4-5 years now.

Additionally, Star International is exploring the purchase of EV trucks or vans from local dealers like BYD. They appreciate the government’s support for an EV transition in Singapore, by offering special COE rates for upgrades from Euro 5 to Euro 7 vehicles which emit less carbon monoxide.

Whilst they await more news from their potential EV supplier on when the EVs can be imported into SG, they are looking into battery swap systems for EV charging. This type of system has been implemented in China and is about 5 min faster per charge than petrol refill systems.

The Star International team looks forward to seeing how they can work on other aspects of EESG (economic, environmental, social and governance) sustainability!


Star International's Wardrobe Showcase

Introduction to Star International:

  • With a long-established heritage since 1981, Star International now has a strong retail presence in Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia with over 41 retail showrooms under the brands - Star, Mondi Lifestyle, Zen Tradition, LUCANO, JotterGoods, DecoTalk & BEDz Store. Star International also runs a retail concept brand Star Living, where it houses all its brands under one roof to provide convenience for busy city dwellers. Star International also exports to over 30 countries worldwide.


Type of Furniture Company: Manufacturing

Sustainability Themes: Waste Reduction, Health & Safety, Green Building & Community Engagement


Environmental Initiatives:

  • Health & Safety:
    • Aligns with E1 (one of the most stringent formaldehyde standards) by default
    • Looking into air-based dry spraying for furniture manufacturing process in new premises
  • Building
    • Looking into GreenMark Gold for new company building
  • Packaging:
    • Encouraged all their factories to switch from polystyrene (styrofoam) to recyclable cardboard (corrugated carton) & recyclable plastic for upholstery and other products
    • Has a reuse system for packaging – a packaging reuse bin is located in HQ for internal reuse, recycling or returning to suppliers
    • Their factory in Johor Bahru, Malaysia works with German company Alba for the recycling of packaging
    • Supplier Packaging Survey
      • Surveyed suppliers’ packaging in 2021 — 50% of supplier used non-recyclable materials
      • With Star Furniture’s support, 70% of factories & suppliers now use recyclable materials
      • Aiming for 90% in 1-2 years; depending on China’s quarantine and other external supply chain disruptions
    • Packaging sustainability is one of Star Furniture’s selection criteria for new suppliers
  • Waste Reduction
    • Clears discontinued furniture at very low prices or donates them to community partners to minimise waste


Social Initiatives (Community Engagement):

  • Donates furniture to community partners like People’s Association, Cheng Hong, NKF and others on a needs-basis


Future Sustainability Plans (Environmental Sustainability):

  • Energy:
    • Exploring solar panels for their new premises & EV trucks
  • Health & Safety:
    • Looking into air-based, dry spraying during the furniture manufacturing process at their new premises


All photos are courtesy of Star International.