Excerpts fron the Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate 2013 [Speeches]

March 18, 2013 by  
Filed under News

Read the full speech of the COS debate by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan – Part 1 and Part 2.

On Waste:

We have made some changes. We have reduced the number of Public Waste Collection sectors from nine to six in order to improve economies of scale. Again, I am trying to bring the cost of waste collection down whilst recognising that the cost of energy, transport, trucks and all that is also going up.

We are also building a new Waste-to-Energy incineration plant to maximise resource recovery and to reduce landfill space. If I could show the picture of Pulau Semakau, you would see that we already have the area marked out for Phase 2. Again, I can give the House the assurance that we are good to go until 2035. In fact, the beauty of Pulau Semakau is that it is probably the only landfill in the world that is a tourist attraction. Just last December, the Prime Minister himself went there and if you go to his Facebook page, you will find some beautiful pictures of that site. So the point is, it can be done, it will be there for the long term and it can be beautiful at the same time.

Our recycling rate in households, to be honest, is still not good enough. In fact, in survey after survey, people have said they want to recycle but for some reason, this is not translated into practice. We will continue to make recycling facilities more convenient for households by enhancing recycling infrastructure in neighbourhoods. In some new HDB flats, we have even tried to pilot projects with dual-refuse and recycling chutes in order to make it more convenient, and some early data shows that this perhaps may increase recycling rates.

Committee of Supply Debate 2010: Recycling and Waste Minimisation

March 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Insights

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

Singapore’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.

3R Fund

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 Singapore’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.

Source: MEWR