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Less waste generated, but less recycling too

SINGAPORE — Singapore generated less waste last year than in the year before, but the rate of recycling also fell marginally, figures released by the National Environment Agency (NEA) today (March 12) showed.

SINGAPORE — Singapore generated less waste last year than in the year before, but the rate of recycling also fell marginally, figures released by the National Environment Agency (NEA) today (March 12) showed.

The total amount of waste generated last year fell by 4.3 per cent to 7.51 million tonnes of waste, reversing a general upward trend in recent years. Singapore generated 6.9 million tonnes of waste in 2011 and 7.27 million tonnes of waste in 2012.

The amount of construction debris waste generated recorded the biggest fall of about 25 per cent, as the construction sector saw a slowdown in projects. 1.27 million tonnes of construction debris waste was generated last year, down from 1.70 million tonnes in 2013.

Overall recycling rates fell by 1 percentage point to 60 per cent last year, with 4.47 million tonnes of waste recycled. Even though more plastic waste was generated, less of it was recycled, with recycling rates falling to 9 per cent last year from 11 per cent in 2013. The recycling rate of paper and cardboard waste also fell by 2 percentage points 52 per cent.

The amount of food waste generated fell slightly from 796,000 tonnes in 2013 to 788,600 tonnes last year. Food waste recycling rate remained at 13 per cent, but the figure is still lower than the 16 per cent in 2010. This comes as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources announced plans for two food waste recycling pilots yesterday.

Director of sustainability consultancy Green Future Solutions Eugene Tay said the drop in both the overall recycling rate and waste generated could be due to the fall in amount of construction debris waste recycled and generated. Construction debris waste, ferrous metal waste and paper and cardboard waste are the top three contributors to the waste generated in Singapore.

The NEA noted that excluding construction and demolition waste, the overall recycling rate actually increased marginally from 51.1 per cent in 2013 to 51.4 per cent in 2014.

Singapore has set an overall recycling target of 70 per cent by 2030. Mr Tay felt the slight dip in recycling rates — which based on data on his website is the first decrease in 15 years — is “not very serious”, given how other waste types have also made improvements in their recycling rates. For instance, 59 per cent of the horticultural waste was recycled last year, up from the 48 per cent in 2013.

But he was concerned about the dip in the recycling rate of paper and cardboard, even as more homes are now equipped with recycling bins.

More also needs to be done to improve the situation for plastics waste, noted Mr Tay, adding that Singapore needs to reduce its consumption of plastics, while the authorities should also find a way to improve its recycling rates.

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