Forum: Multi-pronged approach to tackle disposable, packaging waste issue

A recycling activity being conducted in Ghim Moh. PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Mr Martin Lee Ming Han for his views (Focus on reducing waste, not changing from plastic to paper, Jan 7).

We agree that substituting plastic packaging materials with other materials may not be better for the environment.

The National Environment Agency's (NEA) life-cycle assessment study of carrier bags and food containers revealed that perceived eco-friendly alternatives, such as single-use paper bags and biodegradable bags, also have an environmental impact.

Notwithstanding, packaging waste, of which a large part is plastics, is one of NEA's key priority waste streams.

This year, NEA will make it mandatory for large businesses to report the amount of packaging they introduce into the market and their 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) plans.

This will pave the way for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework to manage packaging waste, which will be implemented by 2025.

Under the EPR framework, businesses will be made responsible for the collection and recycling of packaging discarded by consumers.

While plastic bags may still be needed to bag wet items or trash before their disposal, more can be done to reduce their excessive use.

Consumers are encouraged to take only the number of plastic bags they need and use reusable bags whenever possible.

Retailers such as NTUC FairPrice, Mahota Food, Prime Supermarket and BreadTalk are now charging for plastic bags to nudge their consumers towards using fewer plastic bags. We encourage more businesses to implement waste reduction initiatives, and to continue the momentum built in the Year Towards Zero Waste last year.

NEA also launched the "Say YES To Waste Less" campaign last year to persuade consumers to reduce the excessive consumption of disposables.

NEA along with 59 partners, who operate more than 1,600 premises, reached out to consumers at points of consumption and encouraged them to reduce the use of disposables.

Under the "Bring Your Own" initiative, we encouraged the public to take their own bags with them and to donate excess reusable bags at participating supermarkets for the benefit of consumers who forget to bring their own reusable bags.

We urge everyone to play their part to reduce, reuse and recycle. Useful information and tips are available at and the myENV application.

Desmond Tan


Waste and Resource

Management Department

National Environment Agency

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2020, with the headline Forum: Multi-pronged approach to tackle disposable, packaging waste issue. Subscribe