Ladies and Gentleman
1. Good afternoon.
TOWARDS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
2. Today is World Environment Day — a day designated by the United Nations to promote awareness and action for the protection of our environment.
3. In Singapore, sustainable development – the protecting of our environment whilst growing our economy – has been the key tenet of our nation building efforts since independence. Singapore was one of the first countries, in 1972, to form a ministry dedicated to sustaining a high quality environment for its people. We spent S$1.8 billion on sewerage and used water treatment infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, and cleaned up our Singapore River over a decade. Pursuing growth at all costs has never been the Singapore way.
4. In my Ministry’s Addenda to the President’s Address last month, we reaffirmed our commitment to build a smart, green and liveable home for Singaporeans. One of our key plans is to foster a zero waste culture in Singapore. This is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 of the UN 2030 Development Agenda, on Responsible Consumption and Production. SDG 12 aims to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention and the 3Rs -- reduction, recycling and reuse. Singapore will work towards extracting greater value from waste as a resource, so as to achieve our vision of a circular economy. To achieve our goal, we will need to instill a culture of 3Rs among businesses, communities and individuals.
5. Today’s event is a meaningful step towards strengthening e-waste management, a key focus for my Ministry and the National Environment Agency.
NATIONAL E-WASTE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
6. There are many reasons why we should be concerned about e-waste. Increasing affluence, rapid technological advancements, and shorter product replacement periods have led to an increase in the amount of e-waste generated. E-waste also contains heavy metals and hazardous substances that can harm the environment and public health if not properly handled.
7. There are also good economic reasons why we should invest in an e-waste management system. Precious metals can be extracted from e-waste and re-used. Given that Singapore generates 60,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, there is potential for us to turn e-waste into a significant resource. But only 6 per cent of e-waste is recycled through e-waste recycling bins. And 60 per cent of the general public does not know or is unsure of how to recycle e-waste.
8. This is why we will be introducing a national e-waste management system by 2021 that make it easy for the public to recycle e-waste. This mandatory system will be based on the principles of Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR, and will help to ensure that e-waste is recycled properly. Support from the public and industry will be crucial to ensuring the successful implementation of the system.
RENEW PROGRAMME AND PARTICIPATING RETAILERS
9. There is much that members of the public, businesses and organisations can do to tackle e-waste. The RENEW programme is an example of how ground-up efforts can make a difference. Spearheaded by StarHub, DHL and TES, the RENEW programme is Singapore’s largest voluntary e-waste collection and recycling programme. Since its implementation in 2012, RENEW has collected over 240 tonnes of e-waste.
10. The signing of the MOU today is a milestone in the development of the RENEW programme. Best Denki, Courts, Gain City and Harvey Norman have come on-board this programme, and will be adding 20 recycling bins across their outlets island-wide. This will make it more convenient for the public to recycle their e-waste. I am heartened to see our major retailers giving their strong support to this initiative.
11. With more e-waste recycling bins available now, I encourage the community to make use of these facilities to properly dispose of their e-waste. We will be looking to add even more recycling bins in the future. I also look forward to more retailers coming on board the RENEW programme.
12. Our concerted efforts to manage e-waste will not just bring us closer to our vision of a circular economy, they also contribute to our efforts in the Year of Climate Action to reduce our carbon footprint. Let each RENEW bin convey the message that e-waste must be managed responsibly, so that we can safeguard our environment for our future generations.
13. I congratulate all RENEW partners, and wish them every success in this initiative.
14. Thank you.