Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am happy to see many of us gathered here to mark
another chapter in Singapore’s efforts towards sustainable development. We have
lined up an exciting programme here at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) this weekend. You
can visit our partners’ booths that showcase their innovations on reducing,
reusing and recycling. There will be a tour later to see the wormery,
eco-digesters and Eco garden. And
we are privileged to have CEO and Founder of Miniwiz, Mr Arthur Huang, to
share how his company innovates to design solutions for the circular economy, a
concept you will hear a lot more of from today. I hope you will enjoy
yourselves here this weekend and be inspired to take action.
2018 – A successful Year of Climate Action
2. In 2018, we had a successful Year of Climate Action. Individuals,
institutions and organisations stepped forward to take climate action. More
than 340,000 of them pledged to reduce their carbon footprint. Collectively, we
held more than 800 climate action related events across the 3P (People,
Private, and Public) sectors – that’s more than 2 events per day.
3. These efforts demonstrate our firm commitment to
climate action and that we are doing this together. I am proud that the Year of
Climate Action has shown that Singaporeans care, and has brought everyone closer
together to take collective action against climate change.
2019 to be the “Year Towards
4. That is a good start, but we must not stop here.
Climate change will have a growing impact on our lives, more on our children
and even more on our grandchildren. We
need to continue with our efforts to address climate change. Various ministries are implementing measures
to address climate change: building a comprehensive public transport network
and increasing green energy alternatives to name a few. We also take Climate
Action when we address issues around waste.
5. To build on the success of our Year of Climate Action,
we will designate 2019 as the Year towards Zero Waste. The aim is to imbue a consciousness
within Singaporeans on the need to treasure our precious resources and to do
our part to protect the planet. We need
a paradigm shift. We need to adopt a circular
6. Let me explain. Traditionally, we use resources in a linear fashion. Take for instance, a
can of sardines. We make the cans, fill them with sardines, eat what we are
able and throw the can and leftovers away. But one key aspect of the circular
economy approach is to turn trash into treasure by reusing and recycling our
resources endlessly – the can and even the unfinished food. So that same metal
can be collected and reused after processing, and the food waste turned into
7. Another key aspect of
the circular economy is to produce and consume sustainably. The majority of the world’s greenhouse
gas emissions come from the production and consumption of goods. A Norwegian
study puts this figure at more than 60 per cent. Recognising this as a critical
area, world leaders included “Responsible Consumption and Production” among the
17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. That is why becoming a Zero Waste nation is a key pillar of climate
8. Adopting a circular economy approach and striving
towards zero waste is not just environmentally sustainable. It will also bring
new economic opportunities for our companies, and good jobs for Singaporeans.
One example is Australian Fruit Juice, or AFJ. AFJ is a local manufacturer and
supplier of fruit juices. They produce waste fruit peels as a result. Instead
of throwing them away, AFJ partners UglyGood, an upcycling solutions provider,
to process these fruit peels as ingredients for producing organic cleaning
agents. In doing so, they turn trash into treasure, generating new economic
value from something that would have been thrown away. They have also created
new green jobs as skilled workers would be required to perform the conversion
Building a Zero Waste Nation
in everyday living
9. A Zero Waste Nation may sound complex, but it is
actually well grounded in our Asian culture. I recall my parents teaching me
not to waste – don’t waste food, don’t waste electricity, don’t waste water. Today,
we teach our children the same. And this is what the Year Towards Zero Waste is
about – where we consciously act to treasure our resources and protect our
10. Similarly, the circular economy is all around us,
including here at OTH. Every day, about 700kg of discarded food is sent to
eco-digesters instead of waste bins. This is equivalent to 3,500 bowls of rice!
These digesters convert the food waste to water which is used for washing, and
fertiliser, which is distributed to Tampines residents for their gardens to
grow food. Again, we turn food waste into something useful! There are other
benefits. Since there is no food waste to be collected, OTH’s general waste
collector comes only once a day, instead of four times daily, reducing
transport costs and emissions. Food
waste segregation also means that recyclables in blue recycling bins are less
likely to be contaminated. And, we all
enjoy a clean, pest-free environment.
11. We have mobilised the community in Tampines to join
this effort. I am proud that our residents at Tampines Greenlace have been
diligently segregating their food waste at home, and bringing it down to a
special bin on the ground floor, where the food waste is collected and sent to
our OTH digesters. This pilot was supposed to last three months, but I am happy
to announce that we will extend the project following positive feedback and
requests from many residents to continue with it.
A national consciousness for the environment as the
foundation for the “Year Towards Zero Waste”
12. The OTH and Tampines Greenlace projects show how everyone
must do their part as we strive towards a Zero Waste nation. It can be as
simple as bringing reusable bags to carry our shopping, or handing down used textbooks
instead of throwing them away. Each of us can contribute to the environment in
our own ways as we strive towards a Zero Waste Nation.
13. Every effort counts. Joined together, they are a powerful
force for tackling the environmental challenges we face. Nature reminds us of
this. Redwoods are among the world’s tallest trees and they can be as tall as
100 metres – that’s a 30 storey high building. But what’s amazing about
redwoods is not their height, but their roots. For such a tall tree the roots
are actually not very deep. Instead, the roots of each redwood tree intertwine with
that of another redwood. This is what gives the redwood trees collective
strength to weather strong winds and storms – far greater than what an
individual tree can withstand – even with deep roots. As we join together our individual efforts
and forge a collective, national consciousness to care for our environment, we
will likewise build the strength to overcome environmental challenges and build
a sustainable Singapore. This will be a central theme in the Year Towards Zero
Waste, and we will consult and co-create actively with the community.
14. I hope that our collective efforts will allow us to
Save Semakau, our only off-shore landfill. Nas Daily showed Singapore and the
world how impossible but beautiful Semakau is. But it will be completely filled
by 2035 if we do nothing now. Let us take action to extend the lifespan of
Semakau as part of our progress towards a Zero Waste Nation.
Highlights in the
Year Towards Zero Waste
15. There are many things that we can all look forward to
in this Year Towards Zero Waste. We will launch public consultations for our
inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan to foster shared ownership. I warmly encourage
everyone to participate as we chart this journey together.
16. We will also launch the #RecycleRight movement to mobilise
all Singaporeans to recycle right – by keeping recyclables clean, dry and free
from food contamination. Also look out for our new video featuring today’s
emcee and our zero waste ambassador, Ms Denise Keller, after my speech.
17. The private and people sectors are our valuable
partners in rallying Singaporeans in this Year Towards Zero Waste. We will start
a ‘Towards Zero Waste Grant’ to support ground-up projects relating to zero
waste. If you need inspiration, I encourage you to visit our partners’ booths
18. I believe that if we adopt the circular economy
approach and do it right, we will conserve resources, preserve our environment
and create new economic opportunities.
19. The products of the circular economy are not only
profitable, but beautiful as well. Many of us know Tzu Chi has successfully engaged
the community in practising not just 3, but 5Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle,
repair and recover. But do you know that they are also converting used PET
bottles into comfortable dry-fit shirts?
20. There is also Miniwiz. They produce durable furniture
using only recycled materials. I can personally testify to this as I have one
set of tables and chairs designed by Arthur himself just outside my office.
21. I hope you are
now all excited about the upcoming year. Do stay tuned to our updates.
Together, we can make Singapore a Zero Waste Nation.
22. I wish you an enjoyable time this weekend. Thank you.