Science Talk

Plastics: Enough trash talk

Time to stop passing the buck among firms, individuals and Govt - we all have a role to play

Separating plastic waste at the point of disposal enhances recycling. Currently, Singapore does not require plastics to be segregated from other types of waste. This model undermines recycling efforts and instead incentivises incineration, including
Singapore's current usage of plastic bags borders on the excessive. Each person in Singapore is estimated to use about 13 plastic bags a day, way more than any household would need for trash disposal. Alternatives in the form of reusables are widely available in the market today.BT FILE PHOTO
Separating plastic waste at the point of disposal enhances recycling. Currently, Singapore does not require plastics to be segregated from other types of waste. This model undermines recycling efforts and instead incentivises incineration, including
Separating plastic waste at the point of disposal enhances recycling. Currently, Singapore does not require plastics to be segregated from other types of waste. This model undermines recycling efforts and instead incentivises incineration, including that of plastics. ST FILE PHOTO

A supermarket plastic bag serves its real purpose for 30 minutes, the duration of a journey in Singapore. In a drink, a straw is utilised for just 5 minutes. The use of a plastic stirrer is even more short-lived: all of 10 seconds.

These items have fleeting lifespans, but they outlive us by a long margin - 400 years, to be exact.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Plastics: Enough trash talk'. Subscribe