Exploring Glass Circularity - Sean and Rui Xiang from SodaLemonSG.com
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Unlike the common recyclable materials such as plastics and aluminum, you might be wondering where you can recycle glass or at least support a place that recycles and upcycles glass materials in Singapore? This is where Soda Lemon SG comes in.
What is Soda Lemon SG?
The name "Soda Lemon" was inspired from the type of glass they work with, known as "soda-lime glass". Soda-lime glass is commonly used for glass containers to store food and drinks. Soda Lemon SG was born from their founders' belief that while profit is necessary for a business, its main foundations should be rooted on the pillars of sustainability.
Their business model strives to balance between the economy, society and the environment we live in. They aim to transform the way our society views glass both as a resource and as a material.
They believe that we can do our part to reduce our society's impact on nature -- one quality product at a time.
As university students, sometimes it may be inevitable to question the utility of the knowledge that is kept within the confines of the theoretical boundaries of school.
During a trip to Canada, Sean witnessed first-hand how discarded glass could be given a new lease of life and be upcycled into artisanal goods.
It was after in-which he decided, with his co-founder, that they should get their hands dirty and apply what they've learned to help make glass more sustainable in Singapore.
Learn about the technical decisions behind this glass circularity journey with us!
Soda Lemon's Beginnings
Hear about Sean's trip to Yellowknife that gave him an opportunity to witness first-hand how to upcycle glass like what the engineering of Yellowknife did for the many wine bottles in the small town.
This was an opportunity for them to go beyond what was learned in university and 'get their hands dirty'.
Back to School for technical learning
Going back to school after finishing a degree? That is what Sean did as he embarked on the Institute of Technical Education route to understand the ins and outs for mechanical engineering. Click play to find out what he has learned and how it has helped him navigate technical decisions for Soda Lemon SG on a whole new level.
Soda Lemon's Emphasis on Sustainable Packaging: Everything has a cost
Everything has a cost, especially packaging that can easily take up 60% of the cost. There is a cost to everything and even more so from taking the route of delivering a cheap price. Click play to find out the creative ways that Soda Lemon SG has embraced to be economical and sustainable.
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1:10 What is Soda Lemon SG?
1:30 Inspiration of starting Soda Lemon SG and moving into this initiative from their previous business venture (reverse vending machine)
3:20 Sean's trip to Canada and learning about upcycling from an engineer
5:00 Collecting and processing the glass bottles, and designing the upcycled product
7:00 What they do with the glass material
7:30 Learning process of getting the glass up-recycling procedure right
8:50 Difference between Soda Lemon SG (upcycling) and glass-recyclers
9:40 Their plans of catering to market demands with hot working
10:35 Delivery process, and sustainable retail packaging with reused fruit wraps from markets and inking of packaging
13:15 Package Pals making sustainable packaging contributing to an circular economy ecosystem
14:40 How did the co-founders meet and how the work is delegated
15:00 Failing in the right direction
15:40 Life before Soda Lemon SG and fulltime work
17:10 Marketing and having a shoe-string budget
17:50 Material processing learning barrier in Singapore due to regulations and needs (B2 Industrial Unit)
18:45 Sharing an office space in order to keep the SME alive after losing the previous unit during covid-19 period. Businesses cannot exist on their own and are propped up by others when the opportunity is present.
20:15 As they were scientists by training, Sean started studying Mechanical Engineering at ITE (Institute of Technical Education), due to a shoestring budget, learning Quality Engineering, Engineering Design, 3D and 2D cat modelling on solid works, stresses on products regarding safety, etc.
22:25 Using R&D to-stay-on-top of the game and improving business model
22:50 Where they get energy from eg going overseas to collect data for work, immersing in nature, and night classes
24:10 Advice to the young and young at heart
27:25 and 29:22 Favourite resources
28:45 Hot working technical aspects
30:15 Closing thoughts.
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