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Closing Remarks by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Fourth Session of the #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup, 20 Oct 2019, MEWR Hall

Good afternoon everyone.

 

Introduction

 

I am happy to join you again today for the final session of the #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup. Thank you for your presentations.

 

2 Recycling is an important enabler of the circular economy. Through recycling, we hope to keep our precious and finite resources in use for as long as possible by turning trash into treasure. Doing so will result in less waste and less carbon emissions – a key strategy in Singapore’s fight against climate change.

 

3 The Government cannot fight climate change alone. We need everyone to join this journey towards sustainable development, because every positive action counts. That is why we set up this #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup, to work together with Singaporeans like yourselves to co-create solutions.

 

Commitment of Workgroup members

 

4 Among you are youths, working professionals and retirees. You came with different levels of knowledge about recycling, and different life experiences. Over the last four weeks, you have worked hard to learn all about our recycling system, to put together ideas and suggestions on how we can improve household recycling in Singapore.

 

5 Many of you have embarked on prototyping and spent considerable effort to engage and survey residents, to test and improve on your ideas. One group reached out to close to 1000 respondents for your survey. Some of you even roped in your friends and family members to help in this project. You have gone over and beyond our expectations.

 

6 We are very encouraged by the passion you have all shown throughout this process. Everyone has invested an impressive amount of effort in this Workgroup amidst work and other commitments. Thank you for your willingness to give your time and energy to recycle right in Singapore. I hope the journey has been as meaningful for you as it has been for me and my colleagues at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the National Environment Agency (NEA).

 

Diversity of project ideas

 

7 This afternoon, I heard six of your ideas. A few are aligned with what MEWR and NEA have been thinking about. The idea for a deposit refund scheme for beverage bottles and cans to encourage recycling is one such example. Fraser & Neave (F&N) paired up with NTUC FairPrice and Frasers Centrepoint Malls to launch a number of reverse vending machines at a number of FairPrice outlets last year. So I agree that more can be done on this front.

 

8 Another idea you presented was to look at how we can tap on existing influencers and networks in the community, and ride on existing activities to spread our #RecycleRight messages. I personally agree that everyone has a role to play in encouraging others to take positive action for our environment.

 

9 The third idea was on nudging behaviours through monetary incentives. The group which presented on the Dabao Right app mentioned that you have reached out to merchants and consumers to gauge the feasibility of an app to incentivise the use of reusables for food takeaways. I understand that you are considering engaging app developers after today’s session to further explore this idea. This is commendable.

 

10 Many of you also looked at improving the communication of recycling messages — by suggesting ways to insert the messages into the current school curriculum in a systematic way, by redesigning the recycling bin and the recycling experience, and by doing more to reach out to specific groups such as foreign domestic workers. These are interesting ideas that we will look at.

 

Co-creating Solutions with Singaporeans for a Sustainable Singapore

 

11 After we receive your report today, we will study it carefully, and provide a response to your recommendations by the end of November. Importantly, we hope to continue to partner you to pursue some of your recommendations, or related initiatives. I am heartened that some of you are interested in continuing with your pilot projects. We appreciate the time and effort that you are willing to invest, to work together with us to encourage more households to recycle right.  

 

12 Our journey doesn’t end here. For MEWR, this is just the beginning of our efforts to work closer together with Singaporeans, for Singaporeans. I understand that one common point that has come up in many of your discussions throughout this process is the importance of personal connection and human touch. Several of you experienced this when you set up chat groups and went door-to-door to involve residents in your pilot projects and surveys. People were more willing to listen when you reached out to them as a member of the community, or through an existing network.

 

13 Your experience is why we believe that Government cannot do this alone. MEWR will continue to partner Singaporeans like yourselves to co-create and co-deliver solutions to address our evolving environmental challenges. This includes a separate Citizens’ Workgroup that will look at how we might reduce the consumption of single-use plastics.

 

14 For you, I hope you will continue working with us to make Singapore sustainable. Please build on the network of friends you have found through this Workgroup. Be ambassadors, advocates and partners in sustainability. Encourage your family and friends to adopt sustainable consumption as a lifestyle, by practising the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle actively.   

 

15 Once again, thank you for your hard work over the past month, and I look forward to reading your report.

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