Forum: Three-pronged approach to litter management more effective

A cleaner picking up litter outside Junction Nine shopping mall on July 17, 2020. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Tackling the problem of littering by recalcitrant offenders through a carrot and stick approach is surely not the best solution (Find new ways to break bad habit of littering, Thomas Lee Hock Seng, Sept 15).

We have become a consumptive society, used to the convenience of disposables, where one-time use of articles has become the norm.

Just witness how food takeaway has become so prevalent now.

What is unfortunate is that the disposables used are mostly non-biodegradable and, even if cleared by our efficient disposal system, end up at the landfill, as pollutive smoke after incineration or ocean trash. It may be out of sight but the problem has simply been transferred somewhere else.

Consumer behavioural patterns may, of course, be moulded by education campaigns, but bad habits creep up again once enforcement slackens.

It may be better to tackle litter at the stage where goods are produced, where consumers discriminate against socially irresponsible manufacturing processes and adopt the habit of purchasing better-quality, longer-lasting and more environmentally friendly consumables.

As an added incentive, perhaps there could be tax reliefs pegged to such purchases.

We may not be able to become a zero-waste society, but taking a three-pronged approach to waste manage at the production, consumption and disposal stages is always going to be more effective than just focusing on the consumer, which is the weakest link.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2020, with the headline Forum: Three-pronged approach to litter management more effective. Subscribe