Greater inter-stakeholder relationship can reduce plastic waste

It is encouraging to see more initiatives to reduce plastic waste, such as businesses banning plastic straws, and the Government on board as well (Parliament: MP calls for carrier bag charges as a way to reduce plastic waste; Oct 2).

Plastic waste reduction can be enhanced through greater inter-stakeholder collaboration.

In London, all stakeholders - the government, businesses, civil society and the public - are reducing plastic bottle waste.

The government is installing 100 water coolers, partnering the civil society-led #OneLess campaign.

Businesses are offering customers free bottle refills through the Refill London scheme, and Londoners have responded well.

A similar unity can and should be achieved in Singapore.

If the Government, businesses and civil society groups unite behind plastic reduction, their efforts will be amplified nationwide.

This is also practical in ensuring the provision of relevant infrastructure.

Take plastic bottle waste, for example. News reports have proposed that the "yuck" factor of drinking from the toilet tap deters people from refilling their bottles.

Installing water coolers outside public toilets, even if the water comes from the same pipe, would help. Food and beverage outlets could also offer free tap water to customers.

Such initiatives, though expensive, would encourage people to refill their bottles instead of buying bottled water.

Civil society can also be instrumental in debunking myths about tap and bottled water.

Alternatively, we can leverage current inter-stakeholder efforts to reduce plastic waste, such as the Bring Your Own movement started by Zero Waste SG last year.

Zero Waste SG, a non-profit group, works with businesses to reward customers who bring their own bags, bottles or containers. Government agencies like the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources could coordinate the expansion of such collaborative efforts.

We have a good working relationship among the Government, businesses and civil society in Singapore.

Let's use this to start more ambitious inter-stakeholder plastic-waste reduction schemes.

Cheng Woon Jo (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'Greater inter-stakeholder relationship can reduce plastic waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe