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Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Committee of Supply Debate, 4 March 2020

SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITIES IN BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE AND LIVEABLE SINGAPORE

 

 Introduction

1.        Mr Chairman, as Minister Masagos said earlier, we each have a duty to take climate action, and safeguard Singapore for our future generations.

Adopting a Circular Economy Approach Towards a Zero Waste Nation

2.        This was why we designated 2019 as Singapore’s Year Towards Zero Waste — to mobilise every Singaporean to do their part to move Singapore towards a Zero Waste nation and a circular economy. To Mr Chen Show Mao’s question, 2019 was a busy and successful year. We engaged more than 670,000 Singaporeans, and together with our 3P (People, Public and Private) partners, organised almost 2,000 Zero Waste programmes and activities. We supported ground-up initiatives through the ‘Towards Zero Waste Grant’, and launched the “Say YES to Waste Less” campaign. All these efforts helped to instil in Singaporeans the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

3.        We also made tangible steps to lay the foundation for Singapore’s transition to a circular economy. We charted out Singapore’s inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan, and set ourselves an ambitious target to reduce the amount of waste sent to Semakau Landfill by 30 per cent by 2030.

4.        We can close our resource loops, just as we have done for our Water Story. In fact, we already recycle 99 per cent of our ferrous metal waste, and construction and demolition waste. As shared in Budget 2020, we are also making good progress turning incineration ash into construction material we proudly call NEWSand. We will begin trials to test potential NEWSand materials in road construction along Tanah Merah Coast Road later this year. Going forward, NEA will launch a Request for Information by mid-2020 for a commercial-scale facility to produce NEWSand.

 Zero Waste: A Whole-of-Nation Effort

5.        Achieving our Zero Waste vision is a whole-of-nation effort. Last year, we convened our first ever Citizens’ Workgroup to co-create solutions to #RecycleRight. One follow-up project is the redesign of the blue recycling bin to be more user-friendly. The Workgroup’s ideas include a transparent panel on the bin body, eye-level labels with #RecycleRight information, and tailored deposit holes. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) will support the Workgroup members to fine-tune and trial their prototype. Ms Joan Pereira may also be pleased to know that NEA has already successfully trialled the use of bigger recycling bins, which are collected by side-loader trucks. These will be progressively deployed across Singapore by 2022.

6.        As Mr Daniel Goh highlighted, grassroots efforts are also important in encouraging households to #RecycleRight. Our Public Waste Collectors work with the grassroots to organise Cash-for-Trash programmes regularly at convenient locations. NEA is also considering a pilot “recycling bin contamination rate” competition involving several Residents’ Networks.

7.        The private sector has also come on board. F&N Foods partnered NEA in the “Recycle N Save” pilot. A total of 11 Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) have been rolled out and we will deploy 39 more by mid-2020. I am encouraged by the positive response, with over 2 million containers collected since the launch of the RVMs last October. We will continue to refine the pilot.

8.        Mr Dennis Tan and Mr Louis Ng spoke about reducing disposables through a ban or charge. We believe that we should take a pragmatic approach and find an inclusive solution that works for Singapore and Singaporeans, taking into account our local context. For example, biodegradable bags provide few benefits in Singapore as we incinerate all household waste. On a life-cycle basis, single-use paper and biodegradable bags also require large amounts of resources like water and land. Hence, instead of pursuing a substitution strategy, we should focus on inculcating the right values. Singaporeans’ actions could then be motivated by a consciousness to safeguard the environment.

9.        This is why, in the spirit of Singapore Together, NEA will convene a Citizens’ Workgroup later this year to address the excessive consumption of all disposables, including Styrofoam and single-use bags. We welcome citizens to deliberate the idea of a nation-wide charge for single-use bags as well as other measures such as campaigns and education. We will take the Workgroup’s recommendations seriously, and work with participants to implement them where feasible. I invite Singaporeans to register for the Workgroup later this month.

10.   Among the supermarkets, FairPrice has taken the lead with their plastic bag charge trial last year, complemented with educational efforts. The trial has shown promising results, with the majority of FairPrice’s customers receptive towards a plastic bag charge. I commend FairPrice for its leadership and welcome its decision to expand the trial to 25 outlets for one year. I am heartened that Prime has also implemented a plastic bag charge in four of their outlets. I call on other supermarkets and retailers to also pilot this, and urge Singaporeans to support these efforts.

Addressing our Three Priority Waste Streams

11.   My Ministry is taking the lead to introduce enabling regulations to transit to a circular economy. Last September, we passed the Resource Sustainability Act to address three priority waste streams — packaging waste, e-waste, and food waste.

Packaging Waste Including Plastics

12.   Packaging waste makes up a third of the total domestic waste disposed of in Singapore. The amount disposed of will only grow as Singaporeans embrace new trends in online shopping and food delivery. We need to find ways to manage packaging waste more sustainably.

13.   Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, Mr Chia Shi-Lu and Mr Mohamed Irshad asked for our plans on this. This year, we will introduce regulations to mandate the reporting of packaging data and development of 3R plans by producers of packaged products, as well as retailers and supermarkets. This will make companies more aware of their packaging use and encourage them to optimise it, thereby minimising waste and also reducing business costs. Obligated companies will start collecting the data from 1 July this year, for submission to NEA early next year.

14.   As this is the first time we are implementing such a reporting requirement, NEA is partnering the Singapore Manufacturing Federation on a joint capability development programme that will support companies in fulfilling their new obligations. Companies will be offered workshops and training courses to familiarise themselves with the reporting framework.  Companies can also exchange best practices in sustainable packaging waste management, and prepare themselves for the upcoming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework.

EPR for packaging waste

15.   Under the EPR framework, producers are responsible for collecting and recycling their product packaging. We are bringing forward the EPR for packaging waste by implementing it in phases. In the first phase, we will build upon the reporting framework and the Reverse Vending Machine trials to implement a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) for beverage containers by 2022.

16.   In a typical DRS, producers pay for the system to take back used beverage containers. Consumers get a refund when returning empty beverage containers at designated return points. Countries like Norway and Germany have implemented a DRS, and achieved high recycling rates of over 80 per cent for beverage containers. We are studying international best practices, and will conduct industry consultations and a Request for Information for the DRS later this year.

17.   The DRS is also an idea proposed by the Citizens’ Workgroup on #RecycleRight. Workgroup members will partner NEA to work through the DRS implementation, such as co-designing surveys to optimise outcomes of the DRS. Together with our industry stakeholders and Singaporeans, we will design a DRS suitable for Singapore.

Developing our local plastic recycling industry

18.   The DRS will aggregate post-consumer plastic waste, such as PET beverage bottles. This will supply a steady feedstock to drive demand for local recycling capabilities. With your permission, Mr Chairman, may I display some slides please.

19.   We have been working closely with our economic agencies to actively engage interested companies to set up mechanical recycling plants for post-consumer plastic waste here. PET bottles and the like can then be processed locally into plastic pellets, which can in turn be used to make new products. We will announce details when ready.

20.   But not all plastic waste is suitable for mechanical recycling — for example, contaminated plastic bags. To treat these, we are also pursuing chemical recycling solutions. Chemical recycling can potentially convert these plastics into higher-value products, like pyrolysis oil, which is a potential feedstock for Singapore’s petrochemical sector. If successful, this will move us closer to both our goals of being a Zero Waste nation and a Low-Carbon economy. We hope that this will become – get ready for this – “NEWOil”, and strengthen our resource resilience, just as we have done with NEWater and aim to do with NEWSand. We are working with the Economic Development Board (EDB) and industry partners to look into establishing a pilot plant that will contribute to and help anchor the chemical recycling value chain in Singapore within the next few years.

E-waste

21.   Mr Chia Shi-Lu and Mr Mohamed Irshad asked about our progress to address e-waste, which is our second priority waste stream.

22.   NEA has started registering producers under the e-waste EPR framework, which will take effect next year. Producers have also recently begun collecting data on the amount of regulated electronic and electrical products supplied in Singapore, for submission to NEA early next year.

23.   NEA will launch a tender this month to appoint the Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) operator, a key stakeholder in the e-waste EPR framework. NEA is now pre-qualifying organisations for the tender, and aims to appoint the PRS operator by the second half of this year. This will give the operator sufficient lead time to establish its collection and treatment network, and organise public outreach programmes.

24.   Similar to packaging waste, the e-waste EPR framework will finance and drive local e-waste recycling capabilities. TES-B, a new lithium-ion battery recycling facility will be completed in the coming months. EWR2 and SMC Industrial are also planning to build two recycling facilities dedicated to large household appliances, ICT equipment, and batteries. They will be completed by mid-2020 and mid-2022 respectively. Together, the three new facilities will be able to process more than 50,000 tonnes of e-waste per year when fully operational. With these additions, Singapore will be ready to treat our e-waste collected under the EPR system.

Food Waste

25.   Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Mohamed Irshad spoke about food waste, another major waste stream with high generation tonnage and low recycling rates.

26.   Last year, I announced that from 2024, owners and occupiers of commercial and industrial premises that generate large amounts of food waste will be required to segregate their food waste for treatment. Owners and occupiers of new buildings will also be required to treat their food waste on-site.

27.   These requirements will apply to hotels and shopping malls with more than 3,000 square metres of F&B area, including function area for hotels; as well as industrial premises that either house at least one food manufacturer of more than 750 square metres, or are above 20,000 square metres and have more than 20 food tenants.

28.   NEA is including these thresholds in the Code of Practice on Environmental Health, to ensure that from 2021 onwards, obligated owners and operators will allocate space for on-site food waste treatment systems in their development plans.

29.   To support premises to prepare for the mandatory requirements, NEA is developing a guidebook on best practices and case studies on the implementation of food waste segregation and treatment.

Building a Liveable and Endearing Home Together  

 

Raising Standards of Cleanliness in Singapore

 30.   Segregating food waste from the other waste streams will make it easier to maintain cleanliness in premises.

31.   Cleanliness and hygiene is a first line of defence against evolving public health threats. Seventeen years ago, when we were battling SARS, we instituted regular “spring cleaning” of our hawker centres to safeguard environmental hygiene and curb the spread of such diseases. Last month, in response to the 2019 coronovirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we launched the SG Clean campaign to rally Singaporeans to keep Singapore clean and to safeguard public health. At the individual level, we call on Singaporeans to practise good personal hygiene and social responsibility through the “7 Habits of Good Public Hygiene”. Concurrently, NEA is working with government agencies and business premises to step up public hygiene standards. We want our hawker centres, public transport nodes, schools, retail malls, shops and various premises to achieve the “SG Clean” quality mark.

32.   SG Clean seeks to turn the current crisis into an opportunity, by uplifting the standards of public hygiene and sustaining them. It is to be a whole-of-nation movement to instil a national “keep clean culture” for the long term, beyond the battle with COVID-19. We will need to shift from the current top-down compliance-focused approach towards a more collective approach, where all stakeholders take accountability and ownership to proactively achieve high standards of cleanliness inSingapore.

33.   The SG Clean effort is needed even if our regular surveys indicate that we are mostly doing well in keeping Singapore clean. In the last two years, we witnessed multiple incidents of gastroenteritis linked to contaminated environments, including at pre-schools and nursing homes. These incidents underscore the importance of environmental hygiene. So last August, even before COVID-19, NEA convened an interdisciplinary technical committee to develop a set of national baseline cleaning standards for premises. NEA is currently consulting with stakeholders to further develop sector-specific standards.

34.   To catalyse this transformation, we will amend the Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA) to introduce mandatory baseline cleaning standards later this year. These standards will comprise a regime for pro-active and thorough cleaning, as well as disinfection, at prescribed frequencies. This will include the often-neglected “back of house” areas such as bin centres. 

35.   As part of the EPHA amendment, we will place greater accountability on premises managers for the cleanliness of their premises. They will be required to appoint a Designated Person to assist them to develop an environmental sanitation programme and advise on measures to remedy any lapses. We will be mindful to calibrate the standards to minimise compliance costs.

36.   We will work with sectoral leads to progressively implement the new requirements from 2021, starting with higher-risk premises with high footfall and immuno-vulnerable occupants, such as childcare centres, schools, eldercare facilities and hawker centres.  

37.   We do not know how long COVID-19 will last. We are entering a new situation, a new normal, where enhanced personal hygiene habits and social responsibility have to be an integral part of our lives. Let us work together to make SG Clean our new way of life.

Managing Dengue

38.   SG Clean and our fight against dengue go hand in hand, as we remove stagnant water and keep our environment clean and litter-free. In 2019, there were nearly 16,000 reported dengue cases, with 20 deaths. This year, the Aedes mosquito population remains high, and we are concerned about the increasing number of cases of the less common dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3). We must be careful as Singapore has not seen a DENV-3 outbreak in almost three decades, and population immunity to DENV-3 is low.

39.   Let me assure Er Dr Lee Bee Wah and Ms Sylvia Lim that we are addressing these risks through a multi-pronged dengue management approach. First, NEA conducts comprehensive surveillance of the mosquito population via more than 64,000 Gravitraps nationwide. This allows NEA to target its operations early and prioritise areas with higher mosquito population. Second, NEA leverages technology, such as using drones to aid inspections or apply insecticide in hard-to-reach areas. Third, NEA shares data on dengue clusters and areas with higher mosquito population publicly on its website and myENV App. This facilitates early community intervention and pre-emptive measures.

40.   Let me emphasise here, that whatever new approaches we take cannot substitute the need for public vigilance and collective action to suppress mosquito breeding and prevent dengue. I strongly urge all Singaporeans, young and old, to take proactive measures to protect yourselves and your loved ones. Actively practise the ‘7 Habits of Good Public Hygiene’ and ‘Mozzie Wipe-out’.

Hawker Centres

41.   I would like to thank our cleaners who have worked extra hard to keep SG Clean. We can all show our support for the cleaners by playing our part too. At hawker centres, for instance, we can do so by eating from our trays and returning them, as Mr Alex Yam has rightly pointed out. We have achieved a tray return rate of 62 per cent on average at our Productive Hawker Centres, double that of other hawker centres. This was achieved through a suite of efforts such as implementing salient reminders, providing strategically-located Automated Tray Return Stations, and ensuring that trays are clean and dry for use. We will continue working with stakeholders to promote tray return at all our hawker centres. This will also alleviate the cleaners’ workload so that they can focus their efforts on maintaining general cleanliness. 

42.   As custodians of our much loved hawker culture, we will continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure that affordable and good hawker food can continue to be a main-stay in Singapore.

New hawker centres

43.   Mr Gan Thiam Poh, Mr Amrin Amin, Mr Liang Eng Hwa and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap spoke about new hawker centres and Socially-conscious Enterprise Hawker Centres (SEHCs). Of the 20 new centres we are planning to build by 2027, seven are already in operation. Ten more are in the design or construction stage, and we are working out the details for the remaining three. The next centres to open will be Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre in end-2020, and Fernvale Hawker Centre & Market in early 2021. NEA will tender out these two centres to socially-conscious enterprises. These operators provide active management to build up clientele and vibrancy at hawker centres, such as through curating food mix and programming.

44.   Currently, there are seven hawker centres under the SEHC model, and most have done well. Nonetheless, we will constantly review and improve the model. When evaluating tender proposals for operating future hawker centres, NEA will give greater emphasis to footfall, vibrancy, and sustaining the hawker trade. We will also assess operators’ performance in maintaining high footfall and stall occupancy. In the past year, NEA has introduced the Staggered Rent Scheme, and extended the Productive Hawker Centre grant to stallholders at SEHCs. NEA also reviewed the contracts between operators and stallholders to better safeguard stallholders’ welfare, and required operators to conduct regular Hawkers’ Feedback Groups. To Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap’s question, stallholders’ feedback are usually on what more operators can do to improve vibrancy, attract footfall and help stallholders with their operations. All in, these measures serve to ensure that the SEHC model continues to benefit residents, and support stallholders at the same time.

Supporting our hawkers and sustaining the hawker trade

45.   I assure our hawkers that we will always look out for them. As part of the Stabilisation and Support Package announced during Budget 2020, we will provide a one-month rental waiver, with a minimum sum of $200, to all stallholders in hawker centres managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators. This will help them with their operating costs during the current COVID-19 situation. Stallholders will receive 50 per cent rental waiver this month, and 25 per cent in April and May. This will benefit about 14,000 cooked food and market stallholders. About one third of the stallholders, whose monthly rentals are below $200, will in fact enjoy more than one month of rental waiver. We share Ms Joan Pereira’s concern. We will monitor the situation and are prepared to provide further assistance if required.

46.   Nonetheless, I am heartened to see the resilience of our stallholders. At Chinatown Complex Market, the stallholders are working hard to achieve the SG Clean quality mark for their stalls, and are even organising a promotion event this weekend. So do show them your support! It is okay to gain a few calories or inches.

47.   Last year, we also facilitated the formation of two Workgroups, which Mr Liang Eng Hwa spoke about, to co-create solutions to key issues facing our hawker trade and culture. I am pleased to note that even before the Workgroups submit their recommendations, we are already adopting some of their ideas.

48.   For instance, we have already implemented one of their ideas, the Hawkers’ Development Programme (HDP). Classes start next month, and I encourage aspiring hawkers to apply.

49.   The Workgroup also suggested fostering a strong hawkers’ network and facilitating hawker-to-hawker sharing. Following the positive feedback for the inaugural Hawkers’ Seminar held last year, we will support the Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore to organise the Hawkers’ Seminar as an annual event.

50.   Another Workgroup idea that we are working on is a series of hawker awards to recognise hawkers’ efforts and achievements. We will share details on the awards and nomination process later.

51.   A key challenge that the Workgroup raised was the physically demanding nature of the hawker trade. We had launched the Hawkers’ Productivity Grant (HPG) in 2017 to help stallholders adopt kitchen automation equipment. Close to $1.5 million has been disbursed to 526 cooked food stallholders. You might have tried the ayam penyet by Mr Abdul Rahman Bin Suradi. He tapped on the HPG to buy a multi-function food processor to prepare his chilli sauce. Now he needs only a quarter of the time to prepare the sauce, and can ensure the correct consistency and quality. With the time saved, he can serve more customers.

52.   To help more hawkers improve their productivity, I am pleased to announce that we have taken in the Workgroup’s suggestion to enhance the HPG. From 9 March 2020, we will expand the HPG to market stalls, and the scope of supportable items will be broadened beyond kitchen automation to include service innovation, such as queue management systems. We will also extend the HPG, which would have ended in October 2020, to March 2023.

53.   Mr Chairman, in Mandarin please.

54.   小贩们是我们小贩中心和小贩文化的核心。为了帮助小贩们应对2019-冠状病毒疾病疫情的冲击,政府将免除全114家小贩中心摊位一个月的租金,免除金额至少为200元。小贩们这个月将获得百分之50的租金免除,接下来则分别在 4月和5月获得百分之25的租金免除

55.   我们也听取了小贩们的反馈,决定加强“小贩生产力资助金”以鼓励更多小贩借助自动化工序提高生产力。“小贩生 产力资助金”将从3月9日起扩展到巴刹摊主并涵盖更多种自动化器材,包括队列管理系统。我们也将把申请期限延长至2023年3月。

56.   Today, as is fast becoming customary of MEWR’s COS, Members are in for a treat. I have arranged for some hawker delights to be served in the Members’ Room. I urge all of you to tuck into the drool-worthy treats. The Kentang and Sardine epok are from Kalsom Kuih Muih Curry Puff at Yishun Park Hawker Centre, lovingly handmade by Mdm Kalsom Kamis and Mr Zaidi Bin Zainal. They are simply sedap! Also try the exquisite cakes from The Headless Baker at Ghim Moh Hawker Centre – you might just fall head over heels for them! This is a new Incubation Stall run by Ms Amber Pong, who used to work as a pastry chef at a patisserie in Melbourne.

A Sustainable and Liveable Singapore Brings Opportunities for All

57.   Building a sustainable and climate-resilient Singapore for ourselves and for future generations is not only about addressing our challenges. As Er Dr Lee Bee Wah, Mr Mohamed Irshad and Mr Desmond Choo pointed out, it also brings economic opportunities for our companies and creates good jobs for Singaporeans.

Opportunities for local companies to internationalise

58.   Local companies can leverage sustainability as a competitive advantage to export their innovative solutions and grow beyond our shores.

59.   An example is Orinno Technology Pte Ltd, one of NEA’s key partners in Project Wolbachia. NEA and Orinno have jointly developed innovative Wolbachia-Aedes solutions, and have even filed five patents! Not only has Orinno played an important role in advancing Singapore’s public health research, they have also gone on to export these solutions, such as to Thailand and Australia.

Higher-value jobs for Singaporeans

60.    Through upskilling and technology adoption, more than 45,000 people will benefit from higher-value jobs in the environmental services, water and agri-food sectors over the next five to 10 years.

 61.   Let me share about Mr Soh Han Hwee, who started 17 years ago as a Site Supervisor in cleaning services company Horsburgh. He believes in constantly upskilling oneself and has completed over 20 courses — from cleaning, work-at-height, productivity management, risk management, to leadership and people management courses, and the list goes on! Through his training, Mr Soh has been promoted to become an Operations Manager and now has more than a hundred people under his supervision.

62.   As we move towards a risk-calibrated co-regulation approach, we will support companies and entire industries to build up their competencies and create higher value jobs. Just as how the Water Efficiency Management Plan created Water Efficiency Manager roles in companies, strengthening our environmental sanitation and food hygiene will also create demand for higher-skilled roles, such as the cross-functional Environmental Control Officers (ECOs), and Food Hygiene Officers (FHOs).

Enhancement to ECO scheme

63.   NEA will be enhancing the competencies of ECOs who are currently engaged at construction sites as advisers of good environmental practices. Enhanced vocational training will benefit approximately 2,600 ECOs by equipping them with up-to-date skills to better plan and implement a full array of measures including vector control, environmental sanitation and waste management.

64.   We will further review the ECO scheme as a competency-based vocation and broaden their work areas beyond construction sites to more premises types, like shopping malls. In time, ECOs will be valued as certified experts who are well-versed in multiple aspects of environmental management. They are leaders who can drive and raise environmental standards of the premises they oversee. In some ways, ECOs are almost as important as CEOs!

Enhancement to FHO scheme

65.   As part of SFA’s regular review of the Food Hygiene Officer (FHO) course curriculum, SFA will enhance the training framework for FHOs. FHOs can look forward to a holistic food safety education to better equip them as food safety guardians at their workplaces.

66.   SFA will also be developing a new Advanced FHO framework, which would allow FHOs to upgrade and progress to Advanced FHOs. Advanced FHOs will be trained to develop and implement internationally recognised Food Safety Management Systems. Over the next 10 years, 9,000 new and existing FHOs, and 400 Advanced FHOs will be trained.

67.   Courses under these new training frameworks can also be offered as certifiable modules to students in food-related programmes. This enhances their relevant skills and increase their job opportunities. 

New jobs in growth areas

68.   There will also be exciting jobs created in new growth areas such as the high-tech agri-food sector.

69.   SFA has been working with government agencies, Institutes of Higher Learning and the industry to build competency within the agri-food workforce. This includes developing training programmes at various levels, which will be rolled out at the right time to meet industry needs without creating oversupply.

70.   In the last two years, SFA has collaborated with Temasek Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic to implement two SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes leading to diplomas in Aquaculture and Urban Agricultural Technology respectively. These programmes equip fresh ITE graduates with relevant skillsets to start their careers as Aqua or Agri Technicians.

71.   Thus far, there are seven ITE graduates in the two Earn and Learn programmes. Ms Germaine Chong is one of them. As an Aquaculture Technician at Apollo Aquaculture, Germaine benefitted from structured on-the-job training, mentorship and technical training. Recognising Germaine’s good work performance, Apollo Aquaculture has even offered to sponsor her for the full diploma.

72.   This year, SFA will be working with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to launch a new Food Science and Technology post-graduate certificate programme. This programme will cover contemporary topics on urban agri-technology, such as post-harvest of agriculture produce and novel food such as microalgae and insects. I believe technology will remove the “yuck” factor and bring the “yum” factor in.

73.   On the Environmental Services side, we have launched the first ever NEA-Industry Scholarship Programme. We will partner the industry to award 20 scholarships to ITE and Polytechnic students in related fields, such as engineering, environmental technology, and sciences. The scholarship provides scholars with financial support during their studies,  attractive salary and a clear career progression path upon graduation.

74.   In the recycling industry, the three upcoming e-waste recycling facilities are expected to add another 430 jobs. In tandem with the implementation of the Zero Waste Masterplan and Resource Sustainability Act, industry transformation will create more career opportunities requiring engineering, science and environmental management expertise. I therefore want to assure aspiring entrants into these fields that the jobs are exciting, pay well, leverage on new technology, and most importantly, are Planet-saving!

Closing

75.   Mr Chairman, I want to end off my speech on an optimistic note. Even as the existential challenge of climate change looms over us, opportunities abound. We have to seize them and find creative solutions to make the most out of them. Just take my blouse as an example. Its designer JJ Chuan named it MusicCloth. Ms Chuan told me that 56 million kilograms of plastic have been used to make cassette tapes since they were first introduced in 1963. She gives them a new lease of life by upcycling discarded cassette tapes, weaving them into “fabric” for new products, such as evening bags like the one I am holding, and also this prototype matching blouse.

76.   By planning ahead and working together as SG United, we can turn the challenges from climate change into opportunities for our companies to innovate and internationalise, and create better jobs for Singaporeans. That’s really turning trash into treasure!

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