Curb wasteful 'use and throw' mentality

A rubbish truck dumps unsorted waste at the SembWaste Material Recovery Facility on March 21, 2016.
A rubbish truck dumps unsorted waste at the SembWaste Material Recovery Facility on March 21, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

I am glad that the huge amount of daily plastic waste generated from food packaging is being targeted in a more intensive study ("NEA to study impact of takeaway packages"; last Friday).

This is important if our nation is to reach the goal of zero-waste in future ("Aiming for a zero-waste Singapore"; June 17).

Such waste could be greatly reduced if people start to take along their own containers and not rely on disposable takeaway packaging supplied by food vendors.

However, people often cite the hassle of having to carry their own containers and washing these afterwards as obstacles.

I have seen people taking metal tiffin carriers to buy certain takeaway food from hawker centres.

This is wise, considering the harmful substances that may leach out when scalding-hot soup is poured into plastic containers.

We could emulate some aspects of the tiffin culture in India, where many people opt for a service in which home-cooked lunches in tiffin carriers are delivered to their homes or offices every day.

In our context, companies and, preferably, statutory boards could start a programme where reusable containers are given out to employees to try to curb the wasteful "use and throw" mentality, which is rampant in Singapore.

Hawkers and other food establishments could also give out discounts to customers who turn up with their own containers for takeaway food.

Used takeaway food packaging made of polystyrene and waxed paper are often not recyclable.

Many plastic containers also end up in the incineration pile, as people normally do not wash them before disposing of them, which is a requirement for the recycling process.

It would be extreme if laws had to be put in place to ban polystyrene and polypropylene food packaging.

We must show the world that Singapore is concerned about environmental issues as well.

If people switch to using less non-recyclable packaging, then the main problem faced by efforts to educate the public on what waste can be recycled, and in what manner, can be resolved ("Food waste raises a stink for recycling"; May 20).

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'Curb wasteful 'use and throw' mentality'. Print Edition | Subscribe