Waste and cleaning industries must transform themselves: Minister Vivian Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE - The waste and cleaning industries must transform to keep up with the ways cities are changing, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday.

"If you keep thinking that waste is something to be thrown away and cleaning as something to pick up after someone has dumped on you, that is a zero-sum game," he said.

"We have to think about it as resource management and cleaning has to be thought of as landscape management. We should move into areas such as urban mining... our waste streams in effect are resource streams from which we can harvest value and useful products for the future."

He was speaking at the presentation of the 3R Packaging Awards, which are given out to companies who make efforts to reduce material used in product packaging and recycle packaging waste.

Winners included food giant Nestle, which has saved about $142,800 annually by cutting the thickness of its packets. First-time winner Seagate, a date storage company, was commended by Dr Balakrishnan for reducing some 360 tonnes of waste by streamlining its processes.

Packaging waste makes up about a third of the waste disposed here.

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