SINGAPORE - The nation cannot do away with the use of plastic entirely, especially as its functionality has come to the fore amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, solutions should tackle how it can be recycled or disposed of sustainably, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu on Wednesday (July 14).
Plastic's many important properties - being low cost, lightweight and waterproof - also make it useful for hygiene purposes.
Raising the example of how plastic disposables were used for the distribution of meals to migrant workers during the surge in Covid-19 cases in worker dormitories, she pointed out that plastic can be used to deliver items in a contactless and hygienic way.
Given that Singapore's recycling rate is not high, the disposal of plastic must be improved so it does not pollute landfills and oceans, she added.
Therefore, the Government will invest in research to develop Singapore's recycling capability, while also ensuring that less plastic is used in packaging, said Ms Fu.
She was speaking at a panel discussion called "Building a Sustainable Future - Collaboration Beyond Borders and Sectors" on the various collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors in support of both the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and international efforts.
The discussion was part of the opening ceremony of an exhibition jointly launched by real estate company City Developments Limited (CDL) and the National Parks Board (NParks) on Wednesday.
Named "Change the Present, Save the Future", the exhibition was launched at CDL's Green Gallery in the Singapore Botanic Gardens as part of Climate Action Week 2021.
It also showcases NParks' extensive greening efforts and community engagement in Singapore, along with CDL's green buildings and sustainable innovations, among others.
The exhibition, which will be open to the public from Thursday to March next year, is also net zero-certified, meaning the energy required for running the exhibition and its multimedia fixtures is offset by on-site solar generation and off-site renewable energy.
The other panellists at the event were High Commissioner of Canada to Singapore Lynn McDonald; World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore's chief executive R. Raghunathan; and Mr Max Loh, Ernst & Young's Singapore and Brunei managing partner and EY Asean IPO Leader.
The session was moderated by CDL chief sustainability officer Esther An.
Among the issues discussed was the importance of going green so that Singapore can remain competitive on the world stage, as well as the key role played by businesses in reducing their carbon emissions.
Ms Fu said: "Singapore's carbon emissions account for 0.1 per cent of the global carbon emissions, but if the rest of the world's 99.9 per cent of carbon emissions continue at this rate, 100 per cent of Singapore will be inundated.
"So we have every interest for our own existence to encourage, to facilitate global action."
Ms Fu, however, pointed out that driving global emissions to net zero should be an inclusive process, as many developing countries may struggle, as they lack the resources to do so.
On a national level, the Singapore Green Plan also has to be inclusive, as it affects many businesses and sectors, and rolling it out too quickly could in turn affect business competitiveness.
Nonetheless, having the public sector take the lead through the GreenGov.SG initiative sends a signal to the private sector that the Government is putting its purchasing budget to good use, said Ms Fu.
The public sector has set an ambitious target of peaking carbon emissions by around 2025, and will then begin bringing them down five years ahead of the rest of the country.
The scope of GreenGov.SG will be expanded to include public sector infrastructure and operations, such as public transport infrastructure and healthcare facilities. This will double the number of premises covered, from 800 to 1,600 facilities, said Ms Fu.