For the first time in Singapore, a district is launching its own zero-waste masterplan, with a concrete timeline for eliminating or drastically reducing the use of products such as plastic straws.
Announced by Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng on Saturday, the masterplan in Nee Soon East spans two years, with a focus on several areas: plastic and single-use items, paper, carbon emissions, e-waste and food waste.
"We can take the lead in our efforts towards a zero-waste nation," said Mr Ng.
"We are eliminating the use of straws, plastic bottles, plates, utensils and cups from meetings and events over the next two years."
For example, bottled water will not be provided at town council meetings and events at Nee Soon East Community Club (CC).
Nee Soon East grassroots organisations will also stop using straws at events and meetings.
The masterplan also calls for all banners used in the district to not be simply thrown away, but to be "up-cycled" or reused to make other objects. This will be carried out by the end of this year.
TAKING THE LEAD
We can take the lead in our efforts towards a zero-waste nation. We are eliminating the use of straws, plastic bottles, plates, utensils, and cups from meetings and events over the next two years.
NEE SOON GRC MP LOUIS NG
To cut down on paper waste, the printing of documents for meetings at the town council will be halted by the end of the second quarter.
Residents' Committees and CCs across Nee Soon East will follow suit by the fourth quarter of this year.
Energy-saving LED light fixtures, motion sensors and air-conditioning temperature control will be used to reduce carbon emissions in the area.
Nee Soon East also plans to purchase electricity only from a retailer that uses renewable energy from the fourth quarter of 2020.
To tackle the mounting problem of food waste, a Telegram chat group has been set up so that residents can work with other residents to share leftover food.
And by the end of this year, all leftover food at Nee Soon East events will be sent to food digesters for composting.
Also in the works are more events in collaboration with non-profit organisation SG Food Rescue to distribute unsold fruit and vegetables to residents.
"I have been calling for the public service to eliminate single-use plastics from meetings and events, so I thought I should walk the talk," Mr Ng told The Straits Times.
"We have started programmes like having zero straws and no plastic bottles first - and it works. Even programmes to combat food waste, like our Telegram group notifying residents to take leftover food, are in progress as I speak, with nothing going to waste."
He is now working on getting businesses in Nee Soon East involved in the zero-waste plan, and working with them to see how they can eliminate disposables from their day-to-day operations.
He said the next step is to get residents more involved.
"The most important chapter of this journey is how we can get residents, in their daily lives, to take a step forward in saving our planet," said Mr Ng.