Parliament Q&A


TOPICS: Recycling

Ms Rahayu Mahzam: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether there has been a study on the effectiveness of campaigns and programmes­ to create awareness on zero-wastage and recycling; (b) if so, what are the outcomes of such a study; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider embarking on a mass public consultation exercise to collate suggestions from the public on effective strategies to encourage zero-wastage and recycling.

Ms Rahayu Mahzam: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the current efforts or guidelines for businesses to penalise wastage as well as incentivise the reduction and recycling of waste; (b) whether the current efforts and guidelines have been effective; and (c) whether there are any plans to build on the existing framework.


My Ministry and the National Environment Agency adopt a combination of strategies to reduce waste generation and encourage recycling. In particular, we are focusing our efforts on three priority waste streams – food waste, e-waste and packaging waste. While there has been progress, more needs to be done to achieve our vision of a zero waste nation and circular economy.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

2 To make recycling easier, those living in HDB flats or landed properties are provided with either a blue recycling bin under their block or a centralised chute for recyclables under the National Recycling Programme (NRP). This has led to an increase in recyclables collected, from 25,300 tonnes in 2011 to 44,400 tonnes in 2017. In a survey conducted in 2015/2016, more than 70 percent of HDB households indicated that they practised recycling. However, this has not translated into an increase in our domestic recycling rates, which have hovered at around 20 percent in recent years. Taken together, these figures indicate that households are generally aware of recycling, but do not practise it regularly. More needs to be done to make recycling part of daily living for all Singaporeans, by making it more convenient for households to recycle and through more outreach and education on good recycling practices.

3 We also target large waste generators by requiring them to report their waste data and waste reduction targets and plans since 2014. In 2016, 269 large hotels and shopping malls provided these information to NEA. They have also become more aware of how to improve their waste management systems. The proportion of large hotels and malls that recycle has increased from 84 percent in 2014 to 94 percent in 2016. We will look into how the reporting requirement can be extended to other large waste generators such as industrial premises.

Food Waste

4 My Ministry works closely with other Government agencies and private sector partners to combat food waste. NEA and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) have published food waste minimisation guidebooks for food retail establishments, supermarkets and food manufacturing establishments. NEA’s 3R Fund has also supported 22 premises to install on-site food waste treatment systems. Our food waste recycling rate has increased from 12 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2017. But we can do better. My Ministry will continue to explore how we can not only recycle more food waste, but reduce its generation in the first place.

E-Waste and Packaging Waste

5 To better manage e-waste, my Ministry will put in place an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for e-waste management by 2021. We are also studying the feasibility of extending the EPR concept to other waste streams, such as packaging waste including plastics. We will bring forward the mandatory reporting of packaging data and waste reduction plans from 2021 to 2020. This will build on current voluntary efforts such as the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) which encourages businesses to minimise packaging waste. Since its introduction in 2007, the signatories have collectively reduced 46,000 tonnes of packaging waste and saved over $100 million in packaging material costs.

Zero Waste Masterplan

6 My Ministry recently announced that we are developing an inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan to be released next year. In developing the plan, we will be consulting the public and industry stakeholders on our strategies for achieving a Zero Waste Nation and circular economy.

7 In the meantime, we encourage ground-up efforts to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Everybody must do their part. We also welcome anyone with good suggestions to write in to NEA via email or social media. Consumers can also encourage businesses to adopt environmentally-friendly practices through their purchasing choices and by giving them feedback. Everyone’s effort is important in our journey towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation and achieving a circular economy. 


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