Forum: First step for Singapore - hit Europe's recycling level for plastic waste

It is timely that Singapore is working with Germany to establish a Plastics Recycling Association to manage the waste pollution conundrum (Plans for new association, centre to boost plastics recycling in S'pore, ST Online, Aug 13).

This coincides with my observations since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that plastic has become an integral part of our daily life in a variety of forms. Singapore generated over 949,000 tonnes of plastic waste in 2018 alone.

Over half the world's goods are packed in plastic. It is crucial that sustainable solutions to recycle plastic waste are put in place to enhance its usage as an important essential material.

As the demand in this region for recycling solutions is immense, Singapore could become the leading venue in recycling technology for the region.

The rate of recycling for plastic waste in Singapore was about 4 per cent in 2018.

According to PlasticsEurope, an association of manufacturers in the European plastics industry, over a 10-year period up to 2016, plastic waste recycling increased by almost 80 per cent in Europe. The level of recycling increased by 74 per cent while the level of disposals at landfills decreased by 53 per cent.

We should embrace innovative processes to establish Singapore as a centre of excellence for plastic waste recycling, with cooperation and help from Germany to create cost-effective solutions and improve our recycling rate.

When we achieve a recycling rate at the level seen in Europe, we could take the lead in the Asia-Pacific region while extending the lifespan of the Semakau landfill.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi