What are the recyclable and non-recyclable items?
The National Recycling Programme adopts a collection system in which paper, plastic, glass and metal recyclables are deposited into the same blue recycling bin for collection by the Public Waste Collectors. Information on the Items that can or cannot be recycled at home can be found via the useful links listed on the NEA's website here.You may drop us an enquiry on our feedback form you should require clarification.
What does the Ministry do to reduce the use of plastic bags in Singapore?
The Ministry works closely with the National Environment Agency (NEA), to engage environmental groups and retailers to implement ground-up initiatives, to reduce the consumption of plastic bags. NEA continues to step up collaboration with organisations to implement outreach and publicity initiatives that encourage consumers to only take what they need, and bring their own reusable bags and containers.
NEA commissioned a life-cycle assessment study, which found that alternatives to plastic bags, including paper bags and biodegradable bags, also have negative environmental effects. Substituting plastics with these alternatives may not lead to better environmental outcomes. Hence, a more sustainable approach is to tackle the excessive consumption of all types of packaging waste, including plastic. NEA will be implementing the mandatory packaging reporting in 2020. Businesses that place packaging on the consumer market will be required to report annually on the types and amounts of packaging materials they are placing on the market, and their packaging waste reduction plans. This aims to bring greater awareness to companies on the potential for waste reduction within their business operations and spur them to take action to reduce the amount of packaging used and packaging waste disposed of. The Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) was also launched as a joint initiative by the Government, industry and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to reduce packaging waste, which constitutes about one-third by weight of Singapore’s domestic waste. The agreement provides flexibility for the industry to adopt cost-effective solutions to reduce waste. Companies which are interested to join the agreement, or would like to find out more information about the SPA, may visit NEA’s website here. Individuals can also make a positive difference by consciously choosing to use fewer plastic bags, using reusables instead of disposables, recycling plastic waste, and choosing products with reduced packaging. Through this multi-pronged approach and collective measures by various stakeholders, we hope to reduce the amount of waste generated in Singapore.
What happens to the rubbish we dispose from our household?
Household waste is collected by Public Waste Collectors (PWCs) and then sent to the various waste-to-energy plants for incineration. Incineration reduces the volume of solid waste by about 90% and produces steam that runs turbine-generators to generate electricity.
The incinerated ash and other non-incinerable wastes are then transported to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station (TMTS) for the barging operation to Semakau Landfill where they are disposed of.
Why does the ministry not impose a charge on the use of plastic bags?
To conserve resources and reduce the amount of waste, we encourage public to take only what they need, and reuse their plastic bags. In Singapore, plastic bags are reused by households to bag their refuse, such as food waste, before disposing of into the refuse chute. This helps to avoid spillage, odour and pest infestation during waste collection. Plastic bags are properly incinerated and do not end up directly in the landfill.
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What is the Ministry's stand on single-use plastics?
MSE recognises that single-use plastics continue to have its uses. Plastic bags are needed for households to bag their refuse, such as food waste. This helps to prevent spillage, odour and pest infestation, especially during waste collection.Findings from NEA's life-cycle assessment study released in 2018 show that available alternatives to plastics, including biodegradable bags, also have an environmental impact. Substituting plastics with these biodegradable alternatives is not likely to improve environmental outcomes, especially when we incinerate our waste instead of landfilling them. Furthermore, we have strict anti-littering measures and dispose of most waste at our waste-to-energy plants to prevent marine plastic pollution from land-based sources.Hence, rather than banning single-use plastics, MSE is focused on reducing excessive consumption of all types of packaging, including plastics used by businesses and individuals. Under a mandatory packaging reporting framework to be implemented in 2020, businesses will be required to collect data on the types and amounts of packaging (including plastic packaging) they place on the market and submit plans to reduce, reuse and/or recycle packaging waste. We are also studying the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach for managing packaging waste. With this approach, producers will be made responsible for the 'end-of'life' of their products.We will also build a national consciousness to care for the environment so that Singaporeans, residents, and businesses will do more than what regulations require them to do. We have designated 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste to encourage everyone to practise the 3Rs, which to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle right. It may take us a longer time to change habits, but we believe that convincing consumers and businesses to reduce single-use plastics because they care for the environment, is the right way to go.