Ideas sought to tackle excessive use of disposables

Practical solutions to tackle the excessive use of disposable items in Singapore are being sought through a new citizens' workgroup, which will meet between this September and next March.

Members of the public can apply to be part of this workgroup until July 19, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday.

The initiative aims to develop practical and inclusive ways to collectively address the issue of disposables here, it added.

The 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.

They will present a report on their recommendations to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and NEA at the end of the project.

MEWR and NEA will study the proposals, and feasible ideas will be prototyped and piloted.

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

Last year, about 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste comprising disposables such as carrier bags and takeaway containers were accumulated, enough to fill 400 Olympic-size 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, large amounts of water and much land may be needed in producing single-use paper bags and degradable bags, which are often seen as eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags. Degradable plastic bags also provide few benefits as Singapore incinerates all general waste and converts waste into energy.

With the Semakau landfill expected to be full by 2035, it is important to get people to switch to using reusables over disposables, said 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 citizens' workgroup... especially as we have seen an increase in the use of disposables during this Covid-19 pandemic."

Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 15 and above who wish to join the workgroup can apply at www.cgs.gov.sg/citizenworkgroup or call 6338-7984 from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, and e-mail questions to NEA_RD_CWG@nea.gov.sg

Those selected will be informed in early September.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline 'Ideas sought to tackle excessive use of disposables'. Subscribe