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  • Cheryl Tan

Companies Need More Vested Approach To Climate Change - Making The Cut With Ronnie Lee & MINI

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

We speak to Ronnie Lee, General Manager of Lenovo Singapore, on why companies need to take a more vested approach to combat climate change and how Lenovo is pushing sustainability through initiatives like the CO2 Offset Service, lighter packaging and more.

Q: Tell us a little bit about how you're driving sustainability at Lenovo

Okay, as the General Manager of Lenovo Singapore, it's my job to make sure that the policies with regards to sustainability get rolled out by the team here and then of course, the important thing is to make sure that we are also in sync with what the government is doing.

And I'm sure now recently, a lot of you would have realised that this is a big thing even for the government, going green. And then today, what we want to do is to be sure that what we are contributing to Singapore is something significant. It makes sense because as the number one brand in Singapore, right, we have to do it.

Q: The BMW Group has also committed to sustainability and one of the things they are doing is that they are trying to half CO2 emissions per car per kilometre driven as part of their mission to create sustainable mobility. At Lenovo, you've also just launched a service where you are helping companies to offset their computer CO2 emissions, right? So what do you think companies can do to fight climate change?

So I think it's really a concern and I think companies need to start to realise that they have to take a more vested approach, not just to contribute to the whole society but their customers are also asking for it. So we're beginning to also hear from our customers who say, tell us more about what you're doing to help, you know, and we want to be part of it, which is why it led to that service that you mentioned.

And I think effectively what it means is today, we are empowering the customer to say, hey look, instead of playing a passive role, Lenovo you do your part, I can do my part, by working with a so-called sustainable vendor and I can also chalk up credit in the process.

Q: As somebody who recycles, I try to recycle as much as I can at home and I'm always looking at my recycling bin or bag and I'm like there's so much packaging right? It's always about the packaging, right? So what are you doing at Lenovo to reduce wastage and packaging?

Well, I think there are two parts to it, right? So there's a product part, there's a packaging part. I think maybe let me just start off with the product. So we try to use recycled materials, and I'm pleased to share that since 2008, we have actually used about six million kilograms of recycled materials.

I think that's really really a big statement, because today, being also the world's largest PC manufacturer, it is important that we take the lead in doing that.

And I think, the second part when you talk about the packaging. Now it's really a 50-50 thing because it's like, you can't do away with two-layer because your product will get damaged along the way. So you know, us having that innovation DNA, what's important is our engineers get to work and they figure out and say, hey look, how can I get something to be smaller, lighter but yet at the same time, it's sturdy enough to transport the machines, point to point, for my customer.

So we started to have new materials in our packaging, like for example, we're using bamboo, sugarcane fibre. You know, changing the materials itself kind of helps us reduce the weight and through that process, we actually reduce about 3100 tons so far since we have started our packaging and well, I think it is nothing compared to what we need to do, but I think it's a little bit that we are chipping in.

What we are trying to also send across, the message is that now if everybody starts to do their conscious part, it's going to work, right? Because no one company alone is going to be able to do it alone. It's not something about just spending more to get sustainable but in that process, you realise that, hey, you can also have significant cost savings.

I guess the important part is when you get started, right, maybe certain things you are doing is not refined. Certain materials you're using is- it's not bought in bulk yet. But as more and more people jump on the bandwagon right, which is why I think, personally for me I think there are actually three parties involved.

There's the government involved, there are the companies involved, there's also the individual consumer involved because we can't do it all alone by ourselves. We need government support, we need also our customers to say, hey you know, I acknowledge that this is of value, this is one of the points I'm considering when making my purchasing decisions.

Q: Where do you see Lenovo placed in the future of sustainability?

I think first, it starts off with that commitment. So, just to share a bit about the history, we started 2010 with a target to say that by 2020, we want to reduce 20% of the greenhouse gas emission. Well, actually we challenged ourselves to do more and we reduced 40%. So in 2020, the chief came out and said, hey look, 40% has been met, so it's no longer good to have 40%, let's go for 50%. So the target has been set and I think the approach we use is really using the science-based method, right? We want to get really prescriptive, so it's 50% reduction greenhouse Scope 1 Scope 2 gas by 2030.

And of course, the bigger, loftier target is by 2050, we want to be carbon neutral.

Q: Speaking of that, the BMW Group is also looking at reducing their carbon emissions across the entire supply chain, including their production process. So how do you think companies can reduce their global footprint when it comes to sustainability?

The important thing is to get started. I always feel that you know, the most important and difficult step is the first step, right? So once you take the first step forward and say hey, I really want to do it and these are the reasons why I want to do it, whether is it for the community, for the wellness of our future, you know. So once you have that resolve, then take stock of what is happening.

Are there processes within your own setup that you can make more sustainable? And I think, more importantly, you're not alone in this journey. Talk to people. There are vendors, a lot of vendors like myself that are actually contributing to it in our own ways.

Because some of this will work for you, some of this, or not, but the more knowledge you accumulate, the more confident you are. And I think through that process, every little bit counts. You start off small, give yourself a target and then you can move on with that. So back to that part just now when you mentioned about the offset, we call it the CO2 offset programme, so basically what you do is that when you buy IT products, there's actually a certain carbon emission that's done, but companies working with us can choose to say hey I want to offset that, either equal or more. And then how we do that is actually we partner with a company that actually has close links with United Nations.

They actually work on projects like windmill projects, reforestation projects, so it's definitely something credible, something that you know can- It comes in a little certificate that says you have done this much for the environment.

Q: What is your advice for individuals, and how can we play our part towards a more sustainable future?

Sustainability is not a message that you say, hey I'll do it for two days and it'll be all good, right? It's probably something you have to start to tell yourself to say, now if I want to contribute my part, then there are also changes I need to make to the way I am doing my things.

So today, choosing the products, choosing the vendors you work with, I think the consumer or the companies that are buying stuff have a right to make their intention known and say, hey look if you are really conscious about sustainability, let it be clear. And as you mentioned before there are other countries that this is becoming a very big thing, like for example in Europe, it is becoming a prerequisite today. If you're not sustainable then you have to really catch up before companies will even consider you.


This content is brought to you in collaboration with BMW Asia.

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