NEA supports ground-up moves to reduce plastic waste

We agree with Dr Snigdha Sharma that the collective efforts of the people, private and public sectors are needed to reduce plastic waste (Give incentives for recycling plastic; Aug 30).

The National Environment Agency (NEA) encourages and supports the ground-up efforts of environmental groups and retailers, such as Zero Waste SG's Bring Your Own (BYO) campaign to reduce plastic waste and protect the environment.

The BYO campaign is supported by our Call for Ideas Fund and was launched on Aug 31. Under this campaign, educational tips are provided and incentives offered to encourage consumers to use their own reusable containers, bottles and bags.

Retail businesses such as Miniso and Bossini also encourage their patrons to use their own bags by charging for plastic bags. However, community involvement is necessary for these efforts to succeed.

Since April 1, 2014, it has been compulsory for large hotels and shopping malls to report their waste data and waste-reduction plans. This is to build greater awareness among building managers on the potential for reducing waste and reducing disposal costs.

The NEA also encourages building managers to implement waste-reduction and recycling initiatives through stakeholder engagement, the development of 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) guidebooks, and recognising their efforts at platforms such as the biennial 3R Awards for Hotels.

We also recently announced that mandatory reporting of packaging data and waste-reduction plans by businesses that place packaging on the consumer market will be introduced by 2021. This is to raise greater awareness among companies of the potential for waste reduction in their business.

In addition, there is an industry-led initiative - the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) - to reduce packaging waste. The SPA currently has 202 signatories, and annual awards are given out to recognise signatories who have made notable efforts and achievements in reducing packaging waste.

Collectively, these initiatives will support sustainable waste management and reduce the excessive use of resources, including plastic.

Ong Soo San

Director, Waste and Resource Management Department

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'NEA supports ground-up moves to reduce plastic waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe