Committee of Supply Debate 2010: Recycling and Waste Minimisation
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources gave his speech during the Committee of Supply Debate under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) recently. His speech addresses various environmental policies, including recycling and waste minimisation:
Improving Recycling Efforts
Singaporeâ€™s overall recycling rate increased from 40% in 2000 to 57% in 2009 and we are on track to meet the target of 60% by 2012. We are studying how we can enhance the effectiveness of existing recycling efforts. For instance, there is scope to reduce the amount of domestic waste disposed and we are working with the public waste collectors to review the National Recycling Programme. This includes studying the provision of more recycling bins in HDB estates and the collection and recycling of other waste streams such as garden waste from landed homes and food waste from markets.
Bring Your Own Bag Day
We limit the environmental impact of disused plastic bags by incinerating them in our waste-to-energy incineration plants, rather than landfilling them. Many households also re-use plastic bags to bag their refuse. The focus of efforts like the Bring Your Own Bag Day campaign, which was launched by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) in April 2007, is therefore to discourage the excessive use of plastic bags via public education, and to foster a more conservation-oriented mindset. I understand that close to 300 retail outlets now participate in this effort. This is encouraging. I assure that NEA will continue with efforts to educate the public on the importance of recycling and waste minimisation as well as the proper use of recycling facilities.
To support new waste minimisation and recycling projects, NEA launched an $8mil 3R Fund last year. To date, we received 43 applications, of which 9 were approved with grants amounting to $137,000, and 18 are still being evaluated. One of the applications approved is the National University of Singaporeâ€™s Recycling Master Plan to improve the recycling infrastructure and enhance the 3R culture in the University. The project is expected to reduce or recycle 540 tons of waste over 3 years.
Singapore Packaging Agreement
To reduce waste at source, NEA has collaborated with the food and beverage industry on the voluntary Singapore Packaging Agreement since July 2007. The Agreement demonstrates that environmentally friendly practices make sound business sense – the participating companies saved $4.4mil from a reduction of 2,500 tons of packaging waste over the last two years.
For instance, F&N Coca-Cola Singapore shortened the neck closure and reduced the weight of their plastic bottles, saving about 200 tonnes of materials a year. Tetra Pak Jurong introduced a process to recover and reuse waste plastic packaging materials, saving about 380 tons of packaging a year. Following the extension of the Agreement to cover all types of product packaging since October 2009, we can expect to see avoided waste and reduced packaging in other sectors as well.
Development of Recycling Industry
Since 1995, land has been set aside for the recycling industry at the Sarimbun Recycling Park or SRP. The SRP is now fully leased out to 13 companies recycling waste items such as wood and horticultural waste, and construction and demolition waste. NEA is exploring other areas where recycling industries can be sited. Companies can also apply to JTC for industrial land to set up recycling facilities.
NEA has various funding schemes to incentivise and develop the waste management and recycling industry. These schemes include the 3R Fund which I touched on earlier, the Innovation for Environmental Sustainability Fund, as well as the Environment Technology Research Programme. SPRING Singapore also has assistance schemes targeted at SMEs, including loan schemes and capability upgrading programmes.