Current measures against littering in Singapore

From slapping higher fines on litterbugs to mobilising volunteers to help deter them, Singapore has a range of measures in place in its efforts to keep the country clean.

Penalties

The National Environment Agency (NEA) issued about 19,000 tickets for littering last year, which is almost double the number in 2013. Thirty-one per cent of these tickets were issued to non-residents.

On April 1 last year, the Environmental Public Health Act was amended to deter those who continue to act irresponsibly.

Under the revised Act, the maximum fine for littering offenders has been doubled to $2,000 for a first conviction. Those who persist can be fined $4,000 for their second conviction, and $10,000 for their third and subsequent convictions.

The courts may also impose Corrective Work Orders (CWOs) requiring offenders to clean public areas for up to 12 hours.

Last year, the courts issued 688 Corrective Work Orders (CWOs), more than double the 261 in 2013.

CWO was introduced in November 1992 to shame litterbugs. The first 10 litterbugs to carry out CWOs were made to clean up part of the East Coast beach on Feb 21, 1993, in front of the media.

It worked, with the authorities then saying the number of littering offences had dipped.

Earlier this month, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said the NEA is committed to stepping up enforcement of littering rules.

People power

Since the community volunteer scheme was launched in 2013, 259 volunteers from civic groups such as the Singapore Environment Council and the Cat Welfare Society have joined the volunteer corps.

The volunteers successfully engaged 830 litterbugs, persuading them to bin their trash.

Ten cases of enforcement action were taken.

These volunteers can take down the particulars of litterbugs and give the details to the authorities if they refuse to pick up and bin their trash even after being asked to do so.

The Government is considering giving these community volunteers the power to fine litterbugs.

No Cleaners Day

In Nee Soon South, for example, cleaners are given a day off on Labour Day every May 1 - also its annual No Cleaners Day - while residents step in to clean up their estate.

Last year, 500 people, including students and representatives of the area's merchant associations, combed 164 blocks of flats and picked up 500kg of litter.

Bright Spots

First launched in 2012 by the Keep Singapore Clean Movement, which is led by the Public Hygiene Council, the ground-up initiative encourages people and companies to adopt a community area to help keep it clean and litter-free.

At Punggol View Primary, pupils start off cleaning their classrooms, the school's garden and toilets before they are tasked to clean up the public park and beach area in Punggol.

There are more than 300 of such areas and the council hopes to have 500 "Bright Spots" by the end of this year.

Public education for non-residents

The NEA works with various groups to foster the right values in keeping the environment clean, as well as to encourage a ground-up movement that translates these values into action.

For the non-resident population, the NEA conducts regular roadshows at foreign workers' dormitories to raise greater awareness of social norms, such as not littering.

The agency also engages foreign workers through educational materials in their native languages. The litter-free messages are reinforced through briefings conducted by the workers' supervisors.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg