Singapore, 7 March 2019 - During the Committee of Supply debate on 7 March 2019, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Mr Masagos Zulkifli and Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor outlined MEWR’s key initiatives to ensure a sustainable and resource-resilient Singapore.
As a small island state, Singapore has many existential threats. We have overcome our challenges by planning decades ahead. We have invested in research and development and innovative solutions, and scaled them up effectively to address challenges. In the process, we have created good jobs for Singaporeans and helped our companies to tap on opportunities. This is evident in our water story.
However, we cannot rest on our laurels. Climate change will bring new threats and put pressure on essential resources like water, food and energy. We must continue to plan ahead, invest, and strengthen our capacity to meet challenges posed by climate change as well as external developments. We will do so in close partnership with stakeholders and Singaporeans.
Towards Zero Waste: A Circular Economy Approach
We will strive towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation by adopting circular economy strategies. These include reusing and recycling resources, turning trash into treasure and producing and consuming sustainably. This will help us to overcome our resource constraints, and ensure the future Singapore economy is vibrant and sustainable. A whole-of-nation effort involving government, industry, the community, households and individuals is required.
We will release the inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan later this year. The Masterplan will detail our upcoming policies and plans, including in infrastructure and R&D. It has been shaped by numerous engagements and consultations. Just last year alone, NEA consulted more than 250 companies. We will launch the final phase of consultations with online consultations today, followed by focus group discussions in April.
The Masterplan will cover the management of three waste streams:
Electrical and electronic waste
From 2021, producers that supply covered electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) to the local market will be responsible for the end-of-life collection and treatment of their products. Suppliers of consumer EEE will be required to join a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), which will be appointed by NEA, to collect and send e-waste for recycling. A single PRO will benefit from economies of scale, and lower the overall cost of the system. Collection targets will be imposed on the PRO, but penalties for failure to meet collection targets will only be enforced from 2024 to allow transition time.
From 2020, producers of packaging and packaged products (i.e., brand owners, manufacturers, importers, and supermarkets) with an annual turnover of more than $10 million will be required to report on the amounts and types of packaging they put on the market, and their plans to reduce, reuse and recycle them.
This will lay the foundation for the introduction of an Extended Producer Responsibility framework which will be implemented by 2025.
From 2024, large commercial and industrial food waste generators will be required to segregate their food waste for treatment. Such premises include large hotels and malls, and large industrial developments housing food manufacturers, food caterers and food storage warehouses.
MEWR/NEA will work with the public sector to take the lead in segregating food waste for treatment in large public sector buildings where a significant amount of food waste is generated, from 2021 onwards.
From 2021, developers of new developments which are expected to be large food waste generators will be required to allocate and set aside space for on-site food waste treatment in their design plans. They will also be required to implement on-site food waste treatment from 2024.
The new regulations will send an economic signal to producers to take into account environmental externalities and facilitate resource recovery. It will also incentivise them to design products to last longer, improve recyclability, and reduce packaging. We will work closely with the economic agencies and businesses to reap economic opportunities in these industries, and create good jobs for Singaporeans.
Enhancing Food Security: 30-by-30 Vision
Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of our food supply today. This makes us vulnerable to the volatilities of the global food market, including sudden disruptions to transport routes or export bans by food exporting countries, and the impacts of climate change. To build up our food security, we will pursue three strategies: Diversify Import Sources; Grow Local; and Grow Overseas. These three Food Baskets will assure we have a resilient food supply, just as we have four National Taps for our water supply.
Our “Grow Local” food basket will help mitigate our reliance on imports and serve as a buffer during supply disruptions. Our vision is to develop the capability and capacity of our agri-food industry to produce 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by 2030 (i.e., 30 by 30). This will require the industry to transform, be highly productive and employ climate-resilient and sustainable technologies to grow more food with less resources.
Beyond land-based farming, we aim to develop a productive and sustainable local aquaculture ecosystem. Our aspiration is to make Singapore an agri-food hub which exports sustainable solutions. The transformation of our food production industry will create new opportunities for employment and enterprises.
A Smart, Resilient and Sustainable Water System
We will continue to invest in enhancing our water system to make it even more resilient and sustainable. Another $400 million will be invested in the next few years on drainage improvement works. Upgrading works at two major waterways, the Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal and Sungei Pandan Kechil, will be completed this year. We will continue to invest in key water infrastructure. Our fourth and fifth desalination plants in Marina East and Jurong Island will be completed by 2020, while works on the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 are on track. Even as we plan ahead to ensure our water security, Singaporeans must continue to treat water as a precious resource and conserve it.
Building Resilience against Climate Change
We will continue to invest in research and build up our climate science capabilities. The Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) will initiate the National Sea Level Programme this year. This research programme aims to bring together researchers from CCRS, our local universities as well as international experts, to deepen our understanding of sea level science and how sea level rise could impact Singapore.
An Endearing Home with a High Quality Living Environment
Hawker centres are a central part of Singaporeans’ lives; they are our community dining rooms. To ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy our hawker culture, we have been developing and enhancing hawker centres and the hawker trade by engaging hawkers and key stakeholders. We will enhance our incubation stall programme to get new hawkers into the trade, by extending the 50% discount off rental rates for the incubation stalls from six to nine months. We will also extend the productive hawker centre grant, for stallholders in existing centres, from the current two-year grant period to four years, with step-down funding of 50% and 30% in the third and fourth year respectively. This will allow stallholders a more gradual transition towards assuming the full cost of the centralised dishwashing service.
Building a sustainable and endearing home can only be achieved through collective effort. We will continue to engage key stakeholders to seek their feedback on various issues, gather ideas, and work towards co-creating solutions together. Together, we can ensure Singapore remains strong and sustainable for us and generations to come.
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources
7 March 2019