Masagos: Circular economy approach key in going green

Aim is to turn trash into treasure, and reuse and recycle resources for as long as possible

Singapore generated 7.7 million tonnes of waste last year, equivalent to the weight of 530,000 double-decker buses.

It is an amount that is not sustainable in the long run, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

Besides reducing waste and moving towards more sustainable consumption, adopting a circular economy approach in the way Singapore use its resources is key, he added.

"Our vision is to turn our trash into treasure and reuse and recycle our resources for as long as possible," said Mr Masagos during his address yesterday at a public screening of Closing The Loop, a documentary on the circular economy - an economic system that aims to minimise and transform waste into resources.

He stressed that the amount of waste disposed of here has jumped seven times over the last 40 years, and that Semakau landfill is projected to run out of space by 2035.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources' $45 million Closing the Waste Loop research and development initiative launched in 2017, which funds projects that adopt circular economy approaches, is one solution, he added.

But at the individual level, more can be done in homes to close the waste loop. He cited composting, a process that converts food waste into a nutrient-rich material that can be used to fertilise edible plants and vegetables, as an example.

  • 7x

    Increase in the amount of waste disposed of in Singapore over the last 40 years.


    Year that Semakau landfill is projected to run out of space.


"If enough of us do this, we can reduce the number of rubbish trucks needed to transport our rubbish to the incinerator. This will reduce carbon emissions and help mitigate climate change. In short, there are immense possibilities to make a difference," said Mr Masagos.

Organised by Keppel Group in support of Earth Day, the public screening of the full-length documentary saw over 1,000 people turning up at the Eco Lake lawn at the Botanic Gardens yesterday.

The award-winning documentary highlights examples from around the world on innovative applications of technology, process improvements and labour solutions to reduce waste and pollution using circular economy solutions.

Keppel Land chief executive Tan Swee Yiow, who was at the screening, said: "A circular economy is beneficial as it places less demand for natural resources. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources has designated 2019 as Singapore's Year Towards Zero Waste, and this screening is timely, in support of efforts to raise awareness of the need to conserve resources."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 14, 2019, with the headline 'Masagos: Circular economy approach key in going green'. Subscribe