SINGAPORE – The Singapore government intends to invest S$1.5 billion over the next five years into making the country one with a zero-waste culture.
This is part of the country’s ‘Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 vision – a document that outlines the city-state’s strategy to become a more sustainable city.
Recently announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the blueprint maps out Singapore’s sustainable development strategy across areas such as transport, energy, buildings, water use, waste and recycling, public behaviour, and green spaces.
A zero-waste nation
In 2013, Singapore generated more than 7.85 million tonnes of waste. According to the government, Singapore’s overall recycling rate increased from 56% in 2008 to 61% in 2013. The waste that is not recycled – about 7,740 tonnes of waste per day – is incinerated in four of Singapore’s ‘Waste-to-Energy’ (WTE) plants, in the process contributing about 2-3% of the electricity generated in Singapore.
Singapore aims to increase industrial recycling rates from 77% in 2013 to 81% by 2030, and household recycling from 20% in 2013 to 30% in 2050.
“We will work towards becoming a zero waste nation by reducing our consumption of, as well as reusing and recycling all materials to give them a second lease of life,” the document states.
“The government, the community and businesses will come together to put in place infrastructure and programmes that make this our way of life. We will keep Singapore clean and healthy, conserve precious resources, and free up land that would otherwise have been used for landfills, for our future generations to enjoy.”
The government says it aims to achieve this through four main initiatives:
1. Introduce centralised chutes for recyclables in all new public housing flats and facilitate recycling in private housing through better infrastructure support.
2. Introduce Pneumatic Waste Conveyance Systems in new public housing estates to support convenient and hygienic waste disposal. These systems will convey waste by air suction through an underground network of concealed pipes to a central location.
Besides reducing odours, pest infestations and exposed waste, this process will also reduce the need for workers to collect refuse as well as reduce refuse truck traffic
3. Build an integrated waste management facility which will have the capacity to segregate recyclables from waste
4. Introduce more initiatives to reduce food waste in Food & Beverage businesses and to improve recycling of electrical and electronic waste.
Even as it strives to meet its aims, Singapore says it will still need to provide capacity for waste incineration for the future, and plans to build a fifth incineration plant by 2018 – providing an additional daily capacity of 2,400 tonnes.
“We will continue to promote recycling to give waste materials another lease of life,” the blueprint assured. “This waste-to-resource strategy ensures that we do not constrain our development by using up our precious resources and instead get the most of what these resources offer.”
One of the things the Singapore government intends to do is to “extract more value from our waste, such as metals and incineration bottom ash, through different means” such as magnetic separation. A dedicated metals recovery facility is expected to commence operations in 2015.
“Given our limited space for landfill, we must do our best to reuse, reduce and recycle our materials. If everyone plays a part, we can continue to be a model liveable and sustainable city – one that provides a good quality of life for Singaporeans today and in the future,” the blueprint states.