His Excellency Marc Abensour
Ambassador of France
Prof Subra Suresh
President of Nanyang Technological University
Mrs Laurence Piketty
Deputy CEO of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy
Mr Tan Meng Dui
CEO of the National Environment Agency
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. I
am pleased to be here today for the opening of the “Singapore-CEA Alliance for
Research in Circular Economy” (SCARCE), a joint research and development centre
between the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the French Alternative
Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), co-funded by NTU, CEA and the
National Environment Agency (NEA).
represents CEA’s first formal collaboration with NTU, and indeed, with
Singapore. In fact, I understand that this research centre is CEA’s first-ever
outside of France. This collaboration symbolises the strong bilateral ties and partnership
for innovation between our two countries. The inauguration of
this centre marks a most fruitful Singapore-France Year of Innovation. My Ministry and NEA are happy to play a part in supporting
and realising this collaboration.
Together Towards A Zero Waste Nation
3. Singapore has
designated 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste. In mid-2019, we will be releasing
our inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan, which will align the People, Public and
Private sectors, including the research community, towards our common vision of
a Zero Waste Nation.
R&D Strategy on the Circular Economy Approach towards Zero Waste
4. A total of $45
million has been set aside since December 2017 for the Closing the Waste Loop, or
CTWL, R&D Initiative to fund research projects aligned towards Zero Waste.
This significant investment falls under the energy and waste pillar of the NEA
technology masterplan. Under this plan, waste-to-energy
and waste-to-resource are two key
initiatives aligned to circular economy concepts. NEA has traditionally been
strong in the waste-to-energy area, having made significant investments in and operating
waste-to-energy incineration plants for almost four decades now. In line with
our thrust towards Zero Waste, NEA will be placing greater focus and resources
into waste-to-resource R&D programmes in the years ahead.
5. This is why, under
the CTWL, waste-to-resource is a key R&D focus area. One way to turn waste
into resource is by innovating residue management, where a key programme seeks
to turn the bottom ash from our incineration plants, otherwise destined for
landfilling, into NEWSand to be used for construction. This has been in the
news recently. If we succeed, we would have truly closed the waste loop, like we
have done for water. The other key focus will be to turn our waste into
treasure, in the key priority waste streams of e-waste, packaging waste including
plastics, and food waste. Among these, e-waste is a front-runner waste stream,
and this is where SCARCE will have a significant role to play.
6. SCARCE is the first
and largest single recipient of funding from the Closing the Waste Loop R&D
Initiative to date, with NEA committing $12.5 million towards this $20-million
centre. I am pleased to note that the remaining investments have been pledged
by NTU and CEA as a clear commitment to this important undertaking. Under SCARCE, NTU, CEA, and other partners will
co-develop innovative and environment-friendly solutions in the recycling and
recovery of resources from e-waste, such as lithium-ion batteries,
silicon-based solar panels, printed circuit boards and plastic parts found in
7. This is a
significant and timely development. After all, e-waste is one of Singapore’s
fastest growing waste streams, in which about 60,000 tonnes are generated annually.
It is critical that we manage our e-waste properly so as to avoid contaminating
our landfill and water catchments with toxic substances such as lead and mercury.
We should also seek to offer a safe working environment to protect workers who handle
these discarded products and to extract valuable materials that can be recycled
or reused in making new products.
8. NEA will thus be
adopting the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for e-waste by
2021, which places responsibility on producers for the life-cycle of their
products, including their disposal and treatment. This motivates producers to
design longer-lasting or more easily recyclable products and drives green
growth in the industry sector.
9. The EPR framework
for e-waste will apply to electrical and electronic equipment (or “triple E”), which
are categorised as Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment,
batteries, lamps, solar panels and large appliances. Large appliances will now
include electric mobility devices such as e-scooters and power-assisted
Approach, with Benefits to Jobs and Industry
10. The EPR framework
for e-waste is part of a multi-pronged, holistic approach that we are taking to
overcome our waste management challenges and bring us closer to our vision of
becoming a Zero Waste nation. Our approach involves complementing legislation
with citizen and stakeholder engagement and communication, as well as with upstream
efforts to spur industry innovation and development through R&D.
11. Through R&D into Zero Waste and Circular Economy
approaches, new opportunities for our industry will be created. NEA has
launched the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, where various
R&D initiatives were introduced to strengthen our industry’s future-readiness
and resilience in waste management.
12. NEA will actively
develop our e-waste industry, by uplifting skills and capabilities in e-waste recycling
and supply chain management. We are investing in R&D in close partnership
with industry and research institutions to overcome technological barriers.
13. For example, SCARCE
aims to develop “green chemistry” methods to recycle lithium-ion batteries, and
extract up to 75 per cent by weight of valuable materials such as lithium,
cobalt, manganese and their binders, which can be processed for producing new
lithium battery products. The promise of the ambitious research outcomes of
this and other projects has led to enterprises expressing interest to pursue
industry research partnerships with SCARCE. I am very pleased to witness the
signing of Letter of Intent between NTU and the companies this afternoon.
14. As R&D powers
our enterprises and creates new opportunities for them, it will also create
highly skilled jobs for our citizens. Scientists will generate breakthroughs in
waste recycling processes, engineers will develop blueprints and standards for systems
and operations, while analysts will create strategies for efficient scale-up
and operational management.
15. Therefore, I am
heartened by the partnership between NTU and CEA in working towards our goal of
strengthening innovation and enterprise through R&D. I strongly believe
that the efforts by SCARCE will lead to new capabilities for a vibrant e-waste recycling industry in Singapore,
necessary to support our goal towards a circular economy.
16. On this note, I
congratulate NTU and CEA on the opening of the SCARCE research centre, and look
forward to the R&D work bearing fruit, as Singapore strives towards Zero
17. Thank you.