SINGAPORE - The first metal recovery facility in the Republic, which extracts metals such as iron, steel, aluminium and copper from incinerated rubbish, was officially launched by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Dec 1) morning.
The REMEX Minerals Singapore facility in Tuas has been in operation since July. Since then, it has recovered almost 14,000 tonnes of metal from incinerated bottom ash - the remains of incinerated rubbish - using magnetic and eddy separators.
The technology has helped reduce the weight of the incinerated rubbish by 10 per cent, meaning the lifespan of Semakau Landfill - Singapore's only landfill - can be extended. Incineration bottom ash and non-incinerable waste are disposed of at the landfill.
In his speech on Tuesday, Mr Masagos pointed out that the landfill is expected to run out of space in 2035, making the reduction of waste a strategic concern for Singapore.
"Our incineration plants today have conventional magnetic separators that are only able to recover larger pieces of ferrous metals. However, with the metal recovery facility in operation, we can now recover smaller pieces of ferrous metals not recovered previously," he said. "The resultant IBA (incineration bottom ash) could then possibly be further treated to be used as materials for road construction and land reclamation, like what is being done in Japan and the Netherlands."
Earlier this year, The Straits Times reported that National Environment Agency (NEA) has embarked on a study of ash left over from burnt rubbish to see if it can be used as land reclamation material.
As part of the study, which began in 2013, the agency is looking at how the ash, which contains metals such as iron and aluminium, can affect the marine ecosystem.
The NEA has engaged researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to do a risk-assessment study, which will include the development of guidelines on how to use such ash as land reclamation material. NTU is working with the Tropical Marine Science Institute as part of the project. The study is expected to end in 2016.
"The recovery of precious resources from our waste is in line with the plans under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint's goal of Singapore being a Zero Waste Nation," said NEA chief executive Ronnie Tay in a statement.
"While we explore innovative solutions to manage our waste more efficiently, we must all strive to make the practice of the 3Rs - recycle, reduce and reuse - as a way of life."