NEWS

Parliament Q&A

Written Reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on Dumping of Waste, on 3 Feb 2020

Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources what action can be taken against Singaporeans involved in dumping toxic, plastics or other wastes in neighbouring countries.

Reply by Minister Masagos Zulkifli:

1. The transboundary movement of hazardous and other controlled waste is governed by the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, or the Basel Convention, which Singapore is a Party to. The Basel Convention does not prohibit the export of hazardous waste, but requires the Prior Informed Consent of the countries of import and transit. This is in recognition of the legitimate transboundary movement of waste as defined under the Convention, such as those for proper recycling or disposal.

2. The Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act, or the HWA, provides the domestic legislative framework for Singapore to meet our obligations under the Basel Convention. The HWA requires companies to obtain a Basel export permit for the export of controlled waste, and empowers the National Environment Agency (NEA) to take regulatory action against companies and individuals who illegally export such waste. Companies convicted under the HWA may be fined up to $300,000, while individuals may be fined up to $100,000, or imprisoned for a term not exceeding 2 years, or both.

 3. Singapore is committed to uphold our obligations under the Basel Convention. NEA has been actively engaging our local companies to increase awareness on Singapore’s obligations under the Basel Convention, and works closely with the relevant authorities of the importing countries to investigate any allegations of illegal export of waste by our companies. Beyond the Basel Convention, we also remind our companies to adhere to the domestic legislation of countries that they are exporting to.

4. The Basel Convention, which currently does not cover the transboundary movement of plastic waste, will be expanded in scope to cover certain categories of plastic waste from January 2021. We are amending the HWA in line with these recent amendments to the Basel Convention. I will share more details on this at the Second Reading of the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Amendment Bill scheduled for this sitting.

5. We take a serious view of any illegal transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes as defined under the Basel Convention, and will not hesitate to investigate and enforce against violations.  At the same time, we recognise that the legitimate flow of clean and valuable recyclables can help support the adoption of a circular economy at the regional and global level. We will continue to work closely with the international community to strike a balance between facilitating the legitimate flow of such resources, and safeguarding against the illegal export of waste.

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