2008 Waste Statistics and Current Waste Situation in Singapore (Part Three)

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

Continued from Part Two, which looks at the % composition by weight of the waste output, waste disposed and waste recycled in 2008.

Just to recap, we concluded that the focus should be to achieve greater waste reduction in Paper/Cardboard, Plastics and Food Waste, as they are common in households and offices, and there exist opportunities for projects and campaigns to reduce their output.

Besides waste reduction, let’s take a look at the recycling rate of the different waste in 2008.

recycling

As mentioned in Part Two, the waste quantity of construction debris and ferrous metal being recycled are high. The recycling rate is 98% for construction debris and 94% for ferrous metal.

On the other hand, the recycling rate for plastics (9%) and food waste (12%) is much lower. The recycling rate for paper/cardboard is 48%, which means that half of the paper and cardboard waste generated ends up being burned in the incineration plants.

Clearly, more effort need to be put in to first reduce the waste output of Food Waste, Paper/Cardboard and Plastics, and then to recycle them when they are generated as waste.

Let’s look at some local and overseas campaigns and projects to find opportunities for waste reduction.

Love Food Hate Waste

Reduce food waste - Love Food Hate Waste

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign in the UK aims to:

raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste. The campaign shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment too.

The website is a fun and interactive platform to learn about food waste and how to reduce them. It includes a Portion Calculator that shows you how much to cook depending on the number of people, and ways to measure it. There’s also a 2-week menu, recipes for cooking leftover, and food storage tips.

Food for All

Food for All is a youth initiative dedicated to food-related issues in Singapore.

Food for All’s mission is to encourage conversations amongst various stakeholders in the food industry – producers, consumers and everyone in between – in order to achieve the aim of creating an equitable and sustainable food system in Singapore and beyond.

Their recent Food Report 2008 gives an excellent summary on the issues of hunger, agriculture, food security, ethical food, and nutrition in Singapore. The report also looks at the gaps within the local food system requiring both immediate and long-term action.

Opportunities for Food Waste Reduction

We need a more holistic approach to reducing food waste in Singapore, and go beyond the current recycling of food waste after it has been generated. We can learn from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign on reducing food waste due to preparation, and also from Food for All’s report, which has good suggestions such as implementing Food Banks and food distribution systems.

To reduce food waste, we should look at the different food stages:

  1. Food Production (ensure that enough food is grown or imported, and that there are no excess wastage during transportation and  storage)
  2. Food Preparation (prevent food wastage through proper storage, good cooking habits, and sufficient food portions)
  3. Food Consumption (change eating habits and buy enough food to prevent wastage)
  4. Food Distribution (sell or give unsold or soon-to-be expired food and products to the needy)
  5. Food Reuse and Recycling (encourage food waste composting, or producing enzyme, and biogas generation using anaerobic digestion)

The different government agencies such as NEA, AVA, HPB and CDCs should also work together to coordinate programmes and campaigns to reduce food waste.

To be continued, watch out for Part Four.

2008 Waste Statistics and Current Waste Situation in Singapore (Part Two)

March 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

Continued from Part One, which looks at the waste disposed, waste recycled, total waste output and the recycling rate for Singapore from 2000 to 2008.

Just to recap, Waste Disposed refers to the total amount of waste disposed at the four incineration plants and the offshore Semakau Landfill. Waste Recycled refers to the total amount of waste that are recycled locally or exported overseas for recycling. Total Waste Output refers to the total amount of waste generated in Singapore, which is the addition of Waste Disposed and Waste Recycled.

To find out opportunities for greater waste reduction, let’s take a closer look at the % composition by weight of the waste output, waste disposed and waste recycled in 2008.

waste-output

The above graph shows the % composition of total waste output. We can see that the top 5 waste types make up the bulk or about 70% of the total waste output in Singapore. The top 5 types of waste that are generated, which are either disposed of at the incineration plants and landfill or recycled locally and exported, includes:

  1. Paper/Cardboard (21%)
  2. Construction Debris (15%)
  3. Ferrous Metal (13%)
  4. Plastics (11%)
  5. Food Waste (10%)

The two graphs below show how these 5 waste types differ in terms of disposal and recycling.

waste-disposed

From the above graph on waste disposed, we can see that the top 3 waste types make up the bulk (about 70%) of the total waste disposed in Singapore:

  1. Paper/Cardboard (25%)
  2. Plastics (24%)
  3. Food Waste (19%)

The top 3 types of waste disposed (also in the top 5 waste output) are not a surprise as they are common waste that Singaporeans throw away frequently: junk mail, used paper, paper and plastic packaging, plastic bags, plastic bottles and containers, disposable cutlery, leftover and expired food from homes, eating outlets and industries.

The other 2 types of waste (in the top 5 waste output), Construction Debris and Ferrous Metal, only make up 3% of the total waste disposed, which means that they are mostly recycled.

waste-recycled

The above graph shows the waste recycled and we can see that the top 3 waste types make up the bulk (about 70%) of the total waste recycled in Singapore:

  1. Construction Debris (27%)
  2. Ferrous Metal (22%)
  3. Paper/Cardboard (18%)

Construction Debris and Ferrous Metal are indeed being recycled and they make up about 50% of all the waste that are being recycled in Singapore. Although a large quantity of Paper/Cardboard is being recycled, there is a similar amount that is being disposed. The other 2 types of waste (in the top 5 waste output), Plastics and Food Waste, only make up 4% of the total waste recycled.

Where are the opportunities for greater waste reduction? Obviously, we should focus on the top 5 waste types that make up the bulk of the total waste output in Singapore.

However, we would place less emphasis on Construction Debris and Ferrous Metal because of two reasons. One, it is not easy to reduce the waste quantity of construction debris and ferrous metal as they are tied to the economy. The generation of construction and metal-related waste varies according to the construction and business activities, which ultimately depends on the economy. Two, the waste quantity of construction debris and ferrous metal being recycled are already high.

Therefore, the focus should be to achieve greater waste reduction in Paper/Cardboard, Plastics and Food Waste, as they are common in households and offices, and there exist opportunities for projects and campaigns to reduce their output.

To be continued, watch out for Part Three.

2008 Waste Statistics and Current Waste Situation in Singapore (Part One)

March 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

The latest 2008 waste statistics for Singapore can be found at the National Environment Agency’s website. Together with previous waste data from the NEA’s annual reports, we present a snapshot of the current waste situation in Singapore below.

waste-statistics

In the graph above, Waste Disposed refers to the total amount of waste disposed at the four incineration plants and the offshore Semakau Landfill. Waste Recycled refers to the total amount of waste that are recycled locally or exported overseas for recycling. Total Waste Output refers to the total amount of waste generated in Singapore, which is the addition of Waste Disposed and Waste Recycled.

The total waste output has increased about 28% from 4.65 million tonnes in 2000 to 5.97 million tonnes in 2008. If we factor in population growth (4.03 million people in 2000 to 4.84 million people in 2008), the actual increase in waste output per capita from 2000 to 2008 is only 7%. The 28% increase in waste output is also less than the 61% increase in Singapore’s GDP ($160 billion in 2000 to $257 billion in 2008). In addition, from 2000 to 2008, the waste disposed has dropped by 6% and the waste recycled has increased by a massive 80%.

recycling-rate

The recycling rate in Singapore for 2008 is 56% and has been increasing steadily over the years. Based on this steady rate of increase, there should be no problem of reaching the 60% recycling rate target set in the Singapore Green Plan 2012. However, the recent financial crisis and slump in the recycling industry might pose some problems.

The waste data show that the efforts of the government in promoting waste minimisation and recycling has paid off. The increase in total waste output is low while the increase in waste recycled is high. However, to work towards zero waste, there is a need for the total waste output to reach a peak and decrease every year.

This means that we can’t depend only on high rates of recycling but we also need greater reduction in the waste disposed, in other words, more reduce and reuse of waste. Recycling is still the least effective of the 3 Rs and should be practised last after reduce and reuse.

To be continued, watch out for Part Two.

Mapping the Location of Recycling Bins in Singapore

February 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

We are in the process of mapping out the location of the public recycling bins at housing estates in Singapore. The locations are obtained from the National Environment Agency (NEA) website. As there are more than 1,500 recycling bins, we are doing this in stages:

  • Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh
  • Bedok
  • City
  • Clementi
  • Hougang and Punggol
  • Jurong
  • Pasir Ris and Tampines
  • Tanglin and Bukit Merah
  • Woodlands and Yishun