Efforts to manage Singapore's waste

The National Environment Agency (NEA) agrees with Mr Lam Chee On ("Persist with recycling to reap benefits"; last Sunday).

The challenges faced by Singapore in waste management may not be the same as those of other countries.

Singapore's waste management system is guided by the need to maintain a high level of public health, while ensuring affordability and minimising land use in the context of our limited land space.

The amount of waste disposed of in Singapore has grown in tandem with economic and population growth, registering a sevenfold increase since 1970.

However, it is not sustainable to keep building more waste disposal facilities to tackle the growing waste problem. Therefore, practising the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) is a key strategy in Singapore's waste management system.

NEA encourages the reduction of waste at source through efforts such as working with manufacturers to reduce the amount of packaging materials used in their products.

The public can play their part by donating or trading their unwanted serviceable items, such as old books and electrical appliances, for reuse, and recycling their waste to maximise resource recovery.

Besides providing a recycling bin for every HDB block, NEA also promotes waste minimisation and recycling at community events, in schools and through social media.

Some recyclables, such as paper and metal cans, may fetch better returns as compared with others, such as plastic and glass bottles, which may cost more to collect and recycle.

Nevertheless, with the development of better technology and processes over time and improved economies of scale, recycling will become more cost-effective.

All incinerable waste is also sent to our waste-to-energy plants, which reduce the waste volume by 90 per cent. This helps to conserve our limited landfill space and lengthen the lifespan of Semakau Landfill.

Ong Soo San


Waste and Resource Management Department

National Environment Agency

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline Efforts to manage Singapore's waste. Subscribe