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Masterplan to push Singapore towards zero-waste future

SINGAPORE — From 2024, large hotels and malls will have to separate their food waste from all other trash so that it can be specially treated and converted to other uses, such as animal feed or compost for landscaping.

Masterplan to push Singapore towards zero-waste future

Food waste, when segregated and treated properly, can be converted for various potential uses, such as animal feed and compost for landscaping.

SINGAPORE — From 2024, large hotels and malls will have to separate their food waste from all other trash so that it can be specially treated and converted to other uses, such as animal feed or compost for landscaping.

This will be one of the key measures rolled out as part of Singapore’s Zero-Waste Masterplan, which will be launched in the second half of this year, Senior Minister of State (Environment and Water Resources) Amy Khor said in Parliament on Thursday (March 7).

The masterplan will set out steps that Singapore must take to minimise its food, packaging and electrical and electronic waste.

It has set a goal of raising the overall recycling rate here to 70 per cent and the domestic recycling rate to 30 per cent by 2030.

This is up from the overall recycling rate of 61 per cent and domestic recycling rate of 21 per cent in 2017.

Public consultations on the masterplan will enter its final stages in the next two months, and the measures to move Singapore towards zero waste will form part of a new Resource Sustainability Bill set to be tabled in Parliament later this year.

Dr Khor, who was speaking during the debate on the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources' budget, urged Singaporeans to take part in the public consultations, saying that waste and resource management affect everyone.

The following is a run-down of the masterplan.

FOOD WASTE

From 2024, sizeable food-waste generators — including large hotels and malls, as well as industrial developments housing food manufacturers, caterers and food-storage warehouses — will have to segregate such waste for treatment on- or off-site.

The Government is also working with large public-sector buildings that generate considerable amounts of food waste, to take the lead in segregating the waste from 2021.

From 2021, developers of new premises that are expected to be large food-waste generators will also have to set aside space for food-waste treatment systems and treat such waste on-site from 2024.

Why this matters: Food waste, when segregated and treated properly, can be converted for various potential uses, such as animal feed and compost for landscaping.

On-site treatment improves the environment by cutting odours and the nuisance of pests. It also reduces carbon emissions and traffic congestion resulting from trucks transporting the waste to a facility for treatment.

PACKAGING WASTE

Producers of packaging and packaged products, such as supermarkets, brand owners, manufacturers and importers, will have to collect data and report to the National Environment Agency (NEA) from 2021 on the types and amount of packaging they introduce to the market.

They will also have to set out and report their plans to reduce the amount of packaging which will end up as waste.

For a start, the rule will apply only to firms with an annual turnover exceeding S$10 million.

They will have to register with the NEA when the framework is rolled out in 2020 and submit their first reports from 2021.

Why this matters: Packaging waste — including plastics — forms about a third of the domestic waste discarded in Singapore.

Mandatory reporting is aimed at raising awareness among businesses of the benefits of reducing such waste and to spur them to act. This may result in cost savings for them, too.

ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC WASTE

From 2021, suppliers of consumer electrical and electronic equipment to the Singapore market will have to join and finance a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) appointed by the NEA to collect electronic waste (e-waste) for recycling.

Such equipment will include laptops, mobile phones, household appliances and electric mobility devices, such as electric scooters and power-assisted bicycles.

The PRO will develop programmes to encourage the public to recycle e-waste, supply avenues to which they can deposit their e-waste — including bins in public areas — and collect and transport them to e-waste recyclers licensed by the NEA.

The organisation will also need to report to the NEA the tonnage of waste collected and recycled.

It will have to meet collection targets, namely, 60 per cent of the weight of large appliances supplied to the market, such as refrigerators and televisions, and 20 per cent of the weight of all other consumer equipment covered that are placed on the market.

The PRO will face penalties for failing to meet the targets, from 2024.

At the request of customers, equipment retailers will also have to take back old equipment for free when they deliver new goods.

Large retailers with sales areas over 300sqm for such consumer equipment will also have to set up in-store e-waste collection points for information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, lamps and batteries.

They also have to ensure licensed e-waste recyclers or the PRO treats the e-waste properly.

The producers will fund the organisation based on their market share and the NEA will roll out measures to minimise the potential cost impact on small producers and retailers.

Producers supplying below certain threshold amounts (such as under 10 tonnes for ICT equipment, including mobile phones and tablets) will be exempted from funding the organisation.

As for commercial and industrial electrical and electronic equipment, such as data servers and solar panels, producers will also have to take back equipment that have reached the end of their lifespans for free, at their clients’ request.

Why this matters: E-waste offers valuable materials that can be extracted and reused. Improper handling of e-waste may result in hazardous substances being released, causing long-term environmental and health problems. Tackling e-waste can, therefore, safeguard environmental health as well as the health of workers in environmental services.

MANDATORY WASTE REPORTING

From next year, the authorities will expand mandatory waste reporting to industrial developments and convention and exhibition centres, after this was rolled out to hotels and malls in 2014.

Owners and occupiers of factories with gross floor areas over 20,000sqm, warehouses spanning more than 50,000sqm and convention and exhibition centres covering more than 8,000sqm will have to begin collecting data in 2020 and submit their reports from 2021.

Since 2014, owners and occupiers of large commercial premises, such as hotels with more than 200 rooms and shopping malls covering more than 4,600sqm in net lettable area, have had to report waste data and develop plans to reduce waste.

Between 2014 and 2017, the share of hotels with recycling practices rose from about 91 to 93 per cent, and for malls, from 80 per cent to 94 per cent. The overall recycling rate for hotels and malls also climbed from 6.5 to 8.7 per cent.

Why this matters: Industrial developments and convention and exhibition centres churn out large amounts of waste, most of which is homogeneous and recyclable. There is the potential for owners and occupiers to cut and segregate waste for recycling.

Related topics

zero waste food waste environment Packaging waste electronic waste

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