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Home > Governance > Corporate Social Responsibility
This report addresses Sembcorp’s corporate citizenship practices, initiatives implemented and achievements in 2008.

The scope of this report covers the activities of our non-listed Utilities, Environment and Industrial Parks businesses, while the activities of our listed Marine business are reported separately in its annual report. We have covered key data relating to our Singapore and UK operations which account for a significant proportion of our turnover and profit, as well as information on community efforts by our overseas industrial parks, which are held through minority-owned joint ventures responsible for their individual on-site health, safety and environment programmes and indicators.

The focus of this chapter is on our health, safety and environment (HSE) efforts as well as our contributions to the community. A detailed review of our human resource activities and workplace practices is set out separately in the Human Resources & Employee Welfare chapter of this annual report.


At Sembcorp, we recognise that the sustainability of our businesses in the long-term is closely intertwined with meeting our stakeholders’ expectations of our health, safety and environmental responsibilities.

We are mindful that our businesses impact the environment and the community. In order to limit any adverse impact, we consciously integrate HSE considerations into our business operations.

Measures that we have taken include developing safe and reliable work processes for our employees, managing our impact on the environment and contributing to the communities where we have a presence.

Our HSE commitment is set out in Sembcorp’s Corporate Social Responsibility and HSE policies below:


Sembcorp, as a member of the international business community, recognises that our business activities have varying direct and indirect impacts on the societies in which we operate. We commit to manage these in a responsible manner, believing that sound and appropriate performance in this area is important for business success.

For Sembcorp, being a responsible corporate citizen is reflected in the following principles:
Standards of business conduct
  We ensure that our business is conducted according to rigorous ethical, professional and legal standards, through maintaining robust corporate governance and an Employee Code of Conduct for staff.
Health, safety and the environment
  We place the management of our health, safety and environmental (HSE) responsibilities as our first priority. We are committed to continuously improving our HSE performance and managing health, safety and environmental risks associated with our activities, products and services. We integrate HSE considerations into all aspects of our business operations and processes with the aim of preventing accidents, injuries, occupational illnesses and pollution and conserving natural resources.
  We aim to be a fair and caring employer offering our staff equitable opportunities to develop and grow.
  We act as a responsible corporate citizen through support for community care initiatives, community partnerships and philanthropic and charitable causes, in particular those supporting children and youth, education and the environment.
Sembcorp’s operations throughout the world are committed to these principles. The stage and level of implementation varies according to each operational area and maturity of business.


Sembcorp manages health, safety and environmental (HSE) responsibilities as its first priority. Sembcorp is committed to continuously improving its HSE performance and managing HSE risks associated with its activities, products and services.

Sembcorp has established and will maintain a HSE management system, and integrate HSE considerations into all aspects of its business operations by implementing the following policy which aims to prevent accidents, injuries, occupational illnesses and pollution as well as conserve natural resources:
Stress to all employees and contractors their responsibility and accountability for safe performance and set appropriate objectives and targets to continually improve HSE performance.
Educate employees to be aware of and understand the safety risks and health hazards associated with their job and the potential impact on the environment.
Make available this policy to all interested parties upon request.
Build, design, operate and maintain facilities and conduct operations in a manner that safeguards people, property and the environment, and minimises waste.
Comply with all HSE laws and regulations and other HSE requirements applicable to Sembcorp’s activities, products and services.
Offer assistance to and influence suppliers, contractors and other interested parties to improve their HSE performance where necessary.
Review and evaluate operations to measure progress and ensure compliance with this policy via periodic system audits and management reviews.
Prepare for, and respond quickly to, accidents or other emergency situations to mitigate adverse impact to people, property and the environment.


We incorporate HSE considerations into our business operations, guided by the following four principles:

Firstly, we actively invest in green business lines, which form a part of our core operations. We do not see these as mere add-ons, but as financially viable businesses that will give us a competitive edge in an increasingly resource-scarce world.

Secondly, we implement sound and internationally recognised HSE management systems. Each of our businesses is responsible for managing its own HSE performance and initiatives. Wherever possible, we integrate our environmental, quality and safety measurement systems and have achieved certification under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.

Thirdly, we continually aim to enhance the environmental friendliness and safety of our processes, products and services by considering the impact of our businesses on health and the environment. Consistent with this, HSE measures are embedded in our business practices. At the same time, we seek continual improvement of our operations through feedback and innovation. We also incorporate audits into our operations to strengthen the functioning of our HSE management systems.

Our employees are assessed on their HSE performance as we seek to promote a safety culture within the Group. Staff members at all levels are encouraged to contribute ideas and suggestions from an operational perspective to improve workplace practices, products and services as well as employee safety and health. Outstanding solutions are recognised at our annual intra-Group innovation awards.

Fourthly, we work closely with our business partners, contractors and suppliers for mutual HSE improvement to promote a far-reaching positive impact. We assess their capabilities to ensure that they will be able to deliver according to project requirements while complying with HSE standards. We actively engage them to identify areas for improvement in our collective move to achieve a healthy, safe and environmentally robust performance.

Renewable energy
A 35-megawatt wood-fuelled power station, one of the UK’s largest renewable energy projects
Power generation
Efficient combined heat-and-power (cogeneration) plants in Singapore, the UK, China and the UAE
Natural gas
First commercial importer and retailer of natural gas in Singapore
Supplier of compressed natural gas to Singapore’s transport sector
Water and wastewater treatment
Water reclamation and industrial wastewater treatment plants in Singapore and China
Recycling and recovery
Alternative fuel
In the area of CSR, we work with local and regional bodies such as the Singapore Compact, of which we are a founding member, and CSR Asia. Through such interactions, we are able to draw upon the best practices of other companies as we share our experiences. One example of such involvement in 2008 was our participation in CSR Asia’s Community Investment Roundtable.

Sembcorp is also a Green Partner and Friend of the Singapore Environment Council, an independent national society promoting environmental programmes and awareness. We support the council’s efforts to educate and inspire students, businesses and the wider community to preserve and care for the environment.

Our Utilities division is a signatory of Responsible Care, a voluntary initiative of the global chemical industry. It has pledged to adopt and apply Responsible Care’s Guiding Principles through the six management practices of product stewardship, process safety, pollution prevention, distribution, employee health and safety, as well as community awareness and emergency response. Members also work together to improve the industry’s HSE performance locally.

In addition, Sembcorp is also the current chair of the Sakra Island Community Awareness Group (SICA), which seeks to promote community awareness and a standardised management practice code for emergency responses among companies located in the Sakra cluster on Singapore’s Jurong Island. The group provides a platform for member companies to share their experiences and best practices in HSE management.


Sembcorp created a Group HSE Office in January 2008 to provide global oversight and support of our HSE policies, programmes and initiatives, presided over by a Group HSE Officer. The Group HSE Office’s responsibilities include monitoring and reporting on the HSE performance of the Group’s business units. It also has a remit to achieve continual HSE improvement through cross-sharing of HSE-related lessons among the business units.

Under the Group HSE Office, cross audits were conducted for our different Utilities operations sites in 2008 to ensure that our operations conform to internationally recognised standards as well as to local statutory requirements. The cross audits were rolled out from April to October 2008 for three sites. Our Utilities operations in Singapore was audited by an HSE officer from our UK plant, while the UK and UAE facilities were audited by HSE officers from Singapore. Staff members from Group Internal Audit also participated in all of these cross audits. Over and above these cross audits, our UK facilities also underwent regular internal waste and environmental audits to ensure conformance.

To reinforce the culture of safety at Sembcorp, we launched our first HSE workshop in 2008. Held in conjunction with our annual asset management workshop, the event was attended by more than 100 participants from our units in Singapore and overseas. HSE-related issues were discussed at the workshop and sharing of knowledge among the business units was facilitated.

Meanwhile, during the year we also participated actively in industry-specific HSE groupings. Sembcorp’s efforts in championing management practices under Responsible Care were recognised when it was conferred the Achievement Award for both Employee Health and Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Responsible Care Awards 2008.

In 2008, Sembcorp assumed the chairmanship of the SICA. As chairman, we conducted surveys on best HSE practices to contribute towards a review of practices at member companies, aimed at elevating overall HSE performance.

Meanwhile, we continued to grow our green business activities in 2008. In support of Singapore’s vision of building a resilient and self-sufficient water supply system, we took on a contract to design, build, own and operate the country’s fifth and largest NEWater plant. When completed, the facility will produce 50 million imperial gallons per day of NEWater from effluent water, making it one of the world’s largest water reclamation facilities.

Through our unit Sembcorp Gas, we continue to contribute to a cleaner environment in Singapore. In February 2008, we launched a compressed natural gas (CNG) retail service, our first on mainland Singapore. We believe this will not only afford owners of CNG vehicles better refuelling access, but also encourage more motorists to turn to clean fuel for environmental and cost benefits.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, we boosted the capacity of our Shanghai Cao Jing cogeneration plant with the construction of two 130-tonne per hour supplementary boilers. We also increased the capacity of our Nanjing wastewater treatment facility from 12,500 cubic metres to 42,500 cubic metres per day. By treating effluents produced by our customers’ facilities, our wastewater treatment activities help to reduce our customers’ water-related environmental impact.

At Zhangjiagang, we continued construction work on China’s first wastewater treatment plant capable of treating high concentration wastewater directly from source to meet environmental limits.


At Sembcorp, we have identified our key HSE concerns based on an evaluation of the greatest potential impact of our main business operations, particularly operations which are wholly or majority-owned. We have focused particularly on the HSE impacts of our wholly-owned Utilities and Environment divisions, as overseas industrial parks are minority-owned and responsible for their own HSE programmes. Our identified key areas of concern include clean air and climate change, water, waste as well as health and safety. We also maintain an ongoing commitment towards charity and the community. Our initiatives to monitor and manage these key concerns are discussed in the paragraphs below.


We are mindful of the impact of our power and steam generation business on climate change and clean air. In this regard, we work towards limiting and managing environmental impact by improving the efficiency and environmental friendliness of our power plants and fuels. We also monitor our carbon emissions and energy usage to ensure that emissions are kept low and usage optimal, without compromising business requirements.

Efficient power and steam generation

Sembcorp leverages technology for greater efficiency and lower emissions in our power, steam and desalination operations. Our plants in China, Singapore, the UAE and Vietnam make use of combined cycle gas turbine technology, where waste heat from gas turbines is used to make steam to generate additional electricity via steam turbines. This enables us to generate more electricity from each unit of fuel input. In addition, we operate combined heat-and-power or cogeneration plants in China, Singapore, the UAE1 and the UK. Cogeneration refers to the production of both electricity and heat from a single fuel input at a facility located near the consumer. Considered the most efficient use of fuel, cogeneration improves the overall recovery of heat and also saves on fuel needed to produce heat or steam in a separate unit. Cogeneration plants also generate substantially lower emissions compared to conventional power plants.

1 In our UAE plant, extracted heat in the form of steam is further used for seawater desalination

Natural gas

Sembcorp is Singapore’s first commercial importer and retailer of natural gas. Considered the cleanest of all fossil fuels, natural gas produces virtually no particulate waste when combusted and less greenhouse gases per unit of energy released compared to coal or oil.

In 2008, we reinforced our position as a leading gas player in Singapore with the conclusion of an agreement to import an additional 90 billion British thermal units per day of natural gas from Indonesia. Meanwhile, we launched our first compressed natural gas (CNG) retail service on mainland Singapore at Jalan Buroh. Together with our existing CNG station on Jurong Island, this will cater to growing demand for cleaner fuel among motorists.

Energy from renewables

Sembcorp’s renewable power plant in the UK, the Sembcorp Biomass Power Station, marked its first year of operation in 2008. The 35-megawatt wood-to-energy plant is designed to meet all current and foreseeable European emissions targets through the application of best available technology. The plant is estimated to save 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year compared to a conventional fossil fuel power station of similar capacity. This reduction is roughly equivalent to the yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 67,000 cars.

Emissions & energy usage monitoring

We monitor the levels of carbon dioxide emitted by our Utilities operations with a view to limiting emissions of this greenhouse gas. (Please see chart showing Utilities’ carbon dioxide emissions on the right.) Our total carbon dioxide emissions saw a 15% increase in 2008, partly due to the higher power and steam output generated by our UK operations following the expiry of its third-party power and steam purchase contracts last year. The 15% increase in 2008 also arises from a low absolute carbon dioxide emissions base in 2007, as our Singapore cogeneration plant underwent a major inspection exercise in 2007 resulting in reduced power and steam output for that year. Despite the increase in absolute emissions, we were able to lower our carbon dioxide emissions per million dollars of revenue by 14%.

In addition to tracking direct carbon dioxide emissions, we monitor the energy usage of our operations. In 2008, our overall electricity consumption from our Utilities operations in Singapore and the UK reduced by 26% compared to 2007.

Apart from managing our emissions and electricity consumption, we also track our Utilities operations’ primary energy sources. Natural gas continues to remain the largest constituent of our primary energy sources. (Please see chart on right.)


We monitor our consumption of potable water for our Utilities operations, operating a closed-loop system in our Singapore operations for the most efficient use and reuse of water. Through our wastewater treatment activities, we also treat industrial effluents generated by our customers to reduce the impact of their wastewater discharge on the environment.

Production of industry process waters
from recycled industrial effluent

Our Utilities division provides a comprehensive suite of water-related utilities services to predominantly industrial clients. We supply approximately 40% of the industrial water requirements on Jurong Island, equivalent in volume to over 8% of Singapore’s total water needs. In producing industrial process water for sale to customers, we reclaim water from effluent.

Our demineralised water and high grade industrial water is substantially derived from reclaimed water. When completed in 2009, our 50 million imperial gallons per day NEWater plant is also set to contribute significantly to our volume of water reclaimed.

Industrial wastewater treatment

Our suite of wastewater treatment solutions assists companies to comply with discharge regulations and limit their water-related environmental impact. In this aspect, our industrial wastewater treatment plants on Singapore’s Jurong Island and in Nanjing, Zhangjiagang and Tianjin have the specialised expertise needed to treat effluent water, including complex industrial effluent, to meet environmental standards. In 2008, we reclaimed over 13 million cubic metres of water from our customers on Singapore’s Jurong Island alone.

In 2008, we completed a new 30,000 cubic metre expansion of our Nanjing wastewater plant in the Nanjing Chemical Industrial Park, more than tripling the plant’s capacity. We also entered into a joint venture agreement with China’s Zhangbao Industries Co to build, own and operate an industrial water reclamation facility in the Zhangjiagang Free Trade Port Zone in Jiangsu province. This facility, which can produce 40,000 cubic metres per day of reclaimed water, will be our third water management project in Zhangjiagang. The additional facilities, together with our existing wastewater treatment facility and high concentration industrial wastewater facility, enhances our ability to support our customers in complying with environmental standards and reducing effluent that might otherwise be discharged into the Yangtze River.


In arid regions such as the Middle East, desalination provides a renewable source of industrial and potable water. Sembcorp operates a 40%-owned combined power and desalination plant in Fujairah, UAE. This plant encompasses a desalination plant with a capacity of 100 million imperial gallons per day (450,000 cubic metres per day), making it one of the largest in the world.

Water usage

As a result of our continued efforts to reuse and recycle water, we have, for three consecutive years, reduced our use of potable and raw water. Our total potable water and raw water consumption fell 12% in 2008.


As one of the largest environmental management players in Singapore, Sembcorp’s Environment business provides services that help to reduce the need for landfills and incineration. We also promote waste reduction by providing separate bins for recyclables as part of our waste collection service to municipal customers. In line with our business focus to reduce waste, we are actively developing differentiating know-how including waste-to-resource capabilities. For 2008, our Environment business reported an 8% increase in the volume of recyclables collected.

Supporting national recycling efforts

Our Environment division also supports national recycling goals. Since 2001, we have played an instrumental role in the National Recycling Programme spearheaded by Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA). Aside from providing regular door-to-door recyclables collection for four out of nine sectors that we serve in Singapore, we also operate a plant for the recovery of construction and demolition waste, which achieved a very high recycling rate of 98% in 2008.

At the community level, Sembcorp is actively involved in various conservation efforts and green causes in Singapore to help reinforce the culture of recycling and waste reduction. In 2008, we jointly organised the National Recycling Day Carnival 2008 with NEA, Bedok Reservoir-Punggol CCC and Aljunied Town Council. The event drew residents from Hougang, where the carnival was held, who came forward and contributed more than 2.4 tonnes of recyclables in exchange for food items.

Pledging our support for the second year running, Sembcorp supported the Corporate Environmental Outreach Run at Semakau Landfill organised by the NEA with a S$15,000 donation. As part of our outreach to the local schools, Sembcorp contributed S$10,600 to the NEA Schools’ Carnival, a national platform for the showcasing of environmental activities and programmes designed by students. The annual event held in November 2008 was organised in conjunction with the Clean & Green Singapore campaign.


The health and safety of our employees and subcontractors remains a core priority.

Of particular focus is on-site safety for our Utilities and Environment operations.

On-site safety

Sembcorp achieved a marked progress in 2008 in improving the on-site safety of our Utilities operations on Jurong Island. This improvement may be attributable to a higher level of HSE awareness among our employees and contractors, particularly since the implementation of the SCU 5/0 initiative. This initiative encompasses the five goals of zero injury, zero spills, zero non-compliance, zero hazardous release and zero unplanned shutdown, as well as a tracking and accountability mechanism for these indicators. Into its fourth year, the programme requires all employees to identify hazards and gaps in activities carried out at their workplaces and eliminate them.

In the last two years, the incident count as reflected by the SCU 5/0 score decreased by almost half. As a result, the “price of non-conformance”, our internal measure for the imputed monetary cost of lapses relating to the five indicators, has decreased.

Aside from the SCU 5/0 initiative, our Utilities arm launched the Spot the Hazard campaign on Jurong Island last year, with the goal of encouraging both employees and contractors to take responsibility for raising and addressing workplace health and safety issues. One highlight of the campaign was a six-week long competition focused on identifying potentially hazardous situations at work. The campaign supplemented the SCU 5/0 initiative as it encouraged reporting and rectifying of workplace hazards in addition to the tracking of lapses. Our customers operating neighbouring plants as well as members of the SICA industry grouping also participated in the campaign.

New benchmarks

For the safety performance of our Utilities and Environment operations in Singapore, we have, beginning this year, set out their accident frequency rates (AFR) and accident severity rates (ASR) in accordance with the tracking criteria set by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. This disclosure is different from our previous years’ reporting of total recordable case frequency and severity rate, which reflected the absolute number of incident cases that took place within our operations.

Our Utilities operations had no reportable cases in 2008, attesting to the robust level of our safety standards.

In terms of ASR, our Utilities operations reported zero man-days lost per million man-hours worked in 2008, compared to 45 man-days lost for the industry.

Our Environment operations registered a decline in its AFR in 2008 compared to the number of reportable cases in 2007 and 2006. As for ASR, there was a 16% improvement in 2008. Our Environment operations continue to place strong emphasis on safety, with the goal of attaining an incident-free work environment. The division regularly holds safety awareness exercises and conducts training and educational courses for its employees so as to improve vehicular safety.

Overseas safety performance

In the UK, our Utilities arm has made good progress in reducing the number of injuries to employees and contractors since 2006. The number of Occupational Health and Safety Administration recordable injuries fell to five in 2008, from 12 in 2007.


Sembcorp is committed to being a good corporate citizen. We actively support our local communities both in Singapore and overseas through contributions in cash and in kind.

In 2008, Sembcorp contributed approximately S$2.5 million to causes including the arts, children and education, sports and fitness, and community and volunteerism.

Children and education

Sembcorp contributed slightly over S$700,000 in aid of children and educational causes. In 2008, our Group-wide charitable fund’s support for one of its key ongoing programmes, the School Book Assistance Grant (SchoolBAG) Scheme, was increased by 20% to S$300,000 to enable more students and their families to tide through the economic downturn. With the additional support, a record 1,492 students benefitted from SchoolBAG last year.

National Day Parade

Sembcorp continued to play an active role in community activities in 2008. An example was the Singapore’s National Day Parade at which we sponsored sports wheelchairs for 20 members of the D’Passion Wheelchair Dance Group, enabling disabled dancers to perform at the national event for the first time. The wheelchairs were specially designed and customised to allow for more complicated movements by the wheelchair-bound dancers. Besides this sponsorship, 126 staff volunteers also represented Sembcorp’s marching contingent during the parade and ceremony segment.

Christmas at the hospice

As part of our community outreach efforts in 2008, Sembcorp employees celebrated Christmas with patients, staff and friends of the Assisi Hospice with a festive dinner, party and fundraising Christmas tree light-up sponsored by the company. This was part of a broader programme of support for the hospice amounting to close to S$58,000, which includes managing and funding the facelift of the hospice’s garden and koi pond to enhance their therapeutic effect for the hospice’s patients. The ongoing refurbishment includes changes to make these areas more user-friendly and wheelchair accessible and also extensions to the roofing and floor of sheltered space in the garden to enable patients to use it during the day. Sembcorp has pledged to support the hospice for the next three years and the programme with the hospice has kicked off a planned series of community involvement and assistance programmes in Singapore for the Group which will continue into 2009.

Rebuilding lives

Sembcorp donated a total of S$110,000 to the rebuilding efforts in China’s Sichuan province following the deadly earthquake of May 2008. The monetary aid was provided through International Enterprise Singapore and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

We also contributed S$25,000 towards a project initiated by the Singapore Water Association and Lien Aid for the design and construction of a mobile drinking water system in one of the worst-hit counties in Sichuan. The system produces drinking water using reverse osmosis, as well as ultra-filtrated water for general usage, providing enough safe, clean water for some 10,000 people.

Local communities

In the UK, Sembcorp UK contributed £64,000 to its local community in the northeast region of England with sponsorships for various community events and education awards. One of its sponsorships was to the Children Challenging Industry project, which enables nine to 11 year-old pupils to experience real-life science by visiting chemical and related companies. Another event which Sembcorp UK supported was the Three Peaks Challenge Great North Run. At this event, participants scaled the highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales to raise funds for hospices and medical charities.

In Vietnam, volunteers from Sembcorp’s Industrial Parks unit participated in the sixth edition of the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) Charity Day on November 16, 2008. Proceeds from the charity day funded the renovation of community buildings and financed the educational needs of students in the Southern province of Binh Duong, where the first two Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) projects are located.

During the year VSIP, also launched its VSIP Together corporate social responsibility programme that undertakes community projects together with its tenants. VSIP raised a total of US$200,000 in partnership with two of its tenants, Thermtrol and Serrano, to fund the reconstruction of the building and courtyard at Tan Binh School in Binh Duong. The funds were also used for new furniture and the school library. In conjunction with the re-opening of the school, VSIP awarded 25 scholarships to the school’s students.

During the year, our Industrial Parks arm also took part in the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation’s Helmets for Kids project by providing each child in Tan Binh School’s student population of 200 with crash helmets. The project aimed to promote road safety for children in light of the high death toll from road accidents in Vietnam.
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