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More waste generated in 2021 as economy picked up: NEA

SINGAPORE — More solid waste was produced in Singapore last year as the economy recovered, growing from 5.88 million tonnes in 2020 to 6.94 million tonnes in 2021, which is an 18 per cent increase.

Bulldozers and compactors are used to level and compact the waste at a landfill cell at the Semakau Landfill, which is Singapore's only landfill for waste disposal.

Bulldozers and compactors are used to level and compact the waste at a landfill cell at the Semakau Landfill, which is Singapore's only landfill for waste disposal.

SINGAPORE — More solid waste was produced in Singapore last year as the economy recovered, growing from 5.88 million tonnes in 2020 to 6.94 million tonnes in 2021, which is an 18 per cent increase.

The higher amounts of waste generation last year was due to a pick-up in economic activity, resumption of business and social activities in 2021, after the Covid-19 pandemic caused a sharp drop in such activities in the previous year, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a release on Monday (April 18).

Compared with the pre-pandemic 2019, Singapore generated 5 per cent less waste in 2021, but disposed of 5 per cent more waste as the amount of waste recycled declined by 11 per cent, said the agency.

Giving a breakdown of where the waste was generated, NEA said domestic waste went up from 4.12 million tonnes in 2020 to 5.12 million tonnes in 2021, while waste from non-domestic sectors grew from 1.77 million tonnes to 1.82 million tonnes in the same period.

The statistics also showed that 55 per cent — or 3.83 million tonnes of the 6.94 million tonnes of waste generated in 2021 — was recycled. This represented a 3 percentage point increase in Singapore's overall recycling rate from 52 per cent in 2020.

Recycling rates of the non-domestic sector increased from 68 per cent in 2020 to 70 per cent in 2021, while that of the domestic sector remained unchanged at 13 per cent.

Of the recycling rate of the domestic sector, NEA noted that more waste was being disposed of by the sector as the work-from-home trend continued into 2021.

“This was matched by a corresponding increase in the amount of recyclables collected under the National Recycling Programme by 14 per cent, contributing to 40 per cent of the increase in the amount of waste recycled by the domestic sector,” said NEA.

The recycling rates of plastic, paper, horticultural and wood waste all saw modest increments in 2021 from 2020.

While recycling rates of most waste streams in 2021 were higher than their pre-Covid levels in 2019, NEA noted that there remains room for improvement as the nation works towards achieving a 70 per cent overall recycling rate by 2030.

The authority also targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to Semakau Landfill by 20 per cent per capita per day by 2026 and 30 per cent per capita per day by 2030.

At the current rates of waste disposal, Semakau Landfill is expected to reach its capacity by 2035.

NEA said the implementation of a disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets from mid-2023 is among the initiatives aimed at tackling waste generation.

The agency is also working to introduce a Beverage Container Return Scheme to support plastics recycling and cultivate recycling habits among consumers.

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National Environment Agency recycling waste sustainability

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