Study Shows That 23% of S’porean Consumers Distrust Businesses’ Sustainability Claims And 30% Are Confused By Them


Have you ever questioned the excessive packaging used in supermarkets, retail stores and other shops? Do you ever look at the tags of a (supposedly) sustainably made product and wondered if it was true? Are you worried about the future of the environment?

You’re not alone.

Even if Singapore wants to paint itself greener, one of the five pillars of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a Green Economy.

Given the results of the “Sustainability in Singapore—Consumer and Business Opportunities” survey, it seems like we have a long way to go.

You might be wondering, “what’s that?” and “how is it relevant?”

The survey is jointly created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Singapore and Accenture.

23 companies were interviewed and 500 consumers in Singapore distributed across age, gender and income groups were surveyed.

The responses were also supplemented with a social media exercise that spanned over 47,000 conversations with over 12,000 people.

The findings from the survey revealed the factors behind Singaporean consumers’ decision to purchase items and their expectations from businesses, governments and themselves with regard to sustainability in Singapore.

Businesses’ current and planned sustainability practices as well as key actions to be undertaken are also covered.

In general, WWF and Accenture have found a gap between consumer demands and business priorities, which can provide greener avenues for businesses to grow.

Consumers in Singapore Prioritise Environmental Concerns

A very encouraging 80% of respondents said that they care about the environment, prioritising environmental concerns when deciding what to buy.

This is versus other social factors like fair labour practices and supporting local firms which are important too.

However, a large problem is that customers often are not given enough information by businesses and the government to support their sustainability journey. These areas are:

  • Awareness—Helps consumers understand the impact of their purchases
  • Trust & Transparency—Helps consumers recognise reliable sources of information
  • Value Proposition—Helps consumers understand what is the best sustainable option
  • Post-Use Life—Helps consumers know the right way to dispose of/extend the products’ life
  • Stewardship


If you have read the survey results, the massive information crevice between consumers and businesses and the government clearly manifests itself in everyday actions.

As one social media user had raised, “People don’t recycle because they don’t believe it works. Frankly, I’m not convinced the things I sent for recycling were actually recycled.”


The survey notes that unless Singaporeans go searching for resources that educate them about sustainability in Singapore, they are unlikely to come across such information.

The majority of survey respondents want to behave more sustainably but worry that they lack the avenues to do so.

One-fifth of respondents also felt that their actions have no impact on the overall state of sustainability which is untrue. This can be harmful to the ongoing efforts put in by others.

Thus, the government and communities have a “golden opportunity to raise awareness about sustainability issues and empower people.”

Trust & Transparency

Most significantly (and what the headline raised), nearly one-third of surveyees found that companies’ sustainability claims were confusing.


23% of them also do not trust businesses sustainability claims.

In addition, most people ranked the government as their most trusted information source and often consumed information from the news and online articles.

As such, businesses are recommended to adopt existing common, credible benchmarks and standards for sustainability claims. They can develop these in partnership with the government and independent organisations.

End-to-End Value Proposition

Being Singaporeans, we are also very practical when it comes to balancing our needs with sustainability. While we would like to see better access and more variety of sustainable products, we also want good value at the same time.

Companies could demonstrate to consumers how a slightly more expensive product would deliver better value to both the consumer and the environment in the long run.

Post-Use Product Life

Many consumers also associated sustainability with durable, long-lasting products. Over 30% of respondents wanted sustainable disposal options for their every day, retail and e-commerce shopping to lengthen the lifespan of products.


More than half of the participants also called out the current excessive use of single-use products. While the government has stepped up with some initiatives like reverse vending machines, many are unaware of them.


Thankfully, three-quarters of the participants want individuals and the community to behave more sustainably.

Nearly 70% also agreed that recycling is the top action that they and their community can take.

Businesses and the government should “partner with residents to co-create community-led sustainability programmes, and show how these initiatives further Singapore’s national sustainability agenda.”

Let’s Get Down to Business (Literally)

You sang that, didn’t you? Anyway…


WWF and Accenture found that businesses’ sustainability ambitions were mainly in showing leadership, emphasising responsible growth and building the brand with various stakeholders.

However, businesses also need to tackle the current gaps which prevent them from doing so.

Companies highlight that business interests must be aligned with sustainability. There is a need to shift mindsets and action.

Sustainability needs to be at the core of business growth first and foremost. Businesses should also plan and set quantifiable targets, measure their performance and communicate about their progress.

Industries also need to come up with supply-side solutions to alternative materials, missing infrastructure and technological improvements.

To help businesses, consumers should provide more proactive feedback and demand so that companies will develop feasible plans for sustainability.

WWF and Accenture recommend that businesses should move forward in providing better proposition value, increase awareness and trust, as well as more avenues for post-use product life.

“By undertaking the actions identified in this report, we can do our part to accelerate progress towards a more sustainable Singapore and a better world for future generations.”


The responsibility of making lasting and sustainable changes doesn’t just fall on us individuals. Businesses need to be held accountable and are essential in mitigating any further damage to our planet.

Check out the full results of the survey here.

Featured Image: ITTIGallery /