General waste disposal facilities to be licensed from August

From next month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will begin licensing general waste disposal facilities. This comes as the number of these facilities has risen steadily over the years - due to a rise in the volume of waste - with more than 300 such facilities here.

In a statement yesterday, NEA said the licensing framework will "enhance its existing regulatory regime to further safeguard public health and the environment".

Facilities will be licensed to receive certain types of waste, and operators will be required to show they have the right equipment.

They will also need to have proper storage systems and comply with approved storage limits. These measures will help mitigate dust, vector and odour nuisance, as well as any potential fire risks, NEA said.

NEA may inspect the facilities and require licensees to take corrective actionover any concerns about public health or environmental problems. 

Licensees that fail to keep to licensing conditions can be fined up to $10,000 under the Environmental Public Health (General Waste Disposal Facilities) Regulations.

Facilities which receive or process higher-risk waste, such as e-waste and used cooking oil, as well as those designed to handle daily at least five tonnes of common waste, such as paper, plastic and glass waste, must be licensed.

NEA told The Straits Times that facilities processing smaller amounts - under five tonnes - of common waste a day do not need a licence, as they "pose a relatively lower risk". But they still need to submit an exemption declaration.

Currently, general waste disposal facilities are required to obtain planning approval from NEA, to ensure compatibility in land use and compliance with pollution control standards.

NEA will accept licence applications from Aug 1. Facility owners and operators will have until July 31 next year  to get their licence or an exemption. Those who establish or operate a disposal facility without the licence or exemption can be fined up to $50,000 or jailed up to 12 months, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'General waste disposal facilities to be licensed from August'. Print Edition | Subscribe