Citizens' workgroup to be convened to find ways to curb excessive use of disposables

About 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste thrown away in 2019 consisted of disposables.
About 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste thrown away in 2019 consisted of disposables.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Practical solutions to tackle the excessive use of disposable items in Singapore are being sought through a new citizens' workgroup to be convened from this September to March next year.

Members of the public can start applying to be part of this workgroup from Monday (June 15) to July 19, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

This NEA initiative aims to develop practical and inclusive ways to collectively address the disposables issue here, the agency said on Monday.

The workgroup's participants will be given access to relevant information, and subject matter experts will also help to provide them with a better understanding of the topic.

The participants will prepare and present a report on their recommendations to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and NEA at the end of the session. MEWR and NEA will study these recommendations, and feasible ideas will be prototyped and piloted.

If participants are interested to follow up on their recommendations, NEA will also consider supporting them.

Last year, about 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste thrown away consisted of disposables such as carrier bags and takeaway containers. This is enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

All types of disposables, even degradable ones, can have an impact on the environment during their production, transportation and disposal, said NEA.

For instance, the production of single-use paper bags and degradable bags, which are often seen as eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags, can consume large amounts of resources like water and land. Degradable plastic bags also provide few benefits as Singapore incinerates all general waste and converts waste into energy.

 
 
 

With Semakau landfill expected to be full by 2035, it is important to reshape behaviour towards the use of reusables over disposables, noted the agency, with a concerted effort by the public, businesses and non-governmental groups being a key point.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said: "MEWR convened our inaugural citizens' workgroup on #RecycleRight last year, and we were heartened by the enthusiastic response and the many ideas generated. The workgroup came up with thoughtful proposals to improve household recycling, and we are following up with participants to bring some of the suggestions to fruition."

She added: "It is timely to convene another citizen's workgroup... especially as we have seen an increase in the use of disposables during this Covid-19 pandemic."

 
 

Singapore citizens and permanent residents above the age of 15 who wish to participate in this workgroup can apply at this website or call 6338-7984 from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.

Selected participants will be informed in early September this year.

The public can also e-mail NEA_RD_CWG@nea.gov.sg for any questions.