The pay-as-you-throw system proposed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) last year was negatively received, with a poll of 100 Straits Times readers finding that 69 of them opposed the idea (NEA's pay-as-you-throw idea triggers memes and serious debate, March 26, 2019).
At the time, before the pandemic, Singaporeans did not feel there was a need to pay more for throwing more waste.
I think it is a good time to revisit the initiative. According to a survey commissioned by The Straits Times, 78 per cent of Singaporeans are willing to pay more for essential services if the extra amount goes to workers (8 in 10 Singaporeans willing to pay more for essential services, June 14).
The remuneration structure would need to be studied in detail to ensure balance and cost sustainability, amid other challenges such as management of waste evaders and helping Singaporeans optimise waste disposal methods.
As Singapore society matures, I think the pay-as-you-throw initiative will drive behaviours that are self-regulating and sustainable.
Besides being able to pay waste collectors more, Singaporeans will also be more aware of the amount of waste that they generate and can consciously try to reduce it.
This will help Singaporeans understand the impact their actions have on the environment and front-line workers.
Being able to throw excessively breeds a self-serving mentality and does not augur well for us as a nation.
Loh Ying Bei