Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Biodegradable Plastics, on 5 October 2020
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry will look into ways in which the advantages of biodegradable plastics may be harnessed and advertised so as to reduce reliance on Singapore’s landfill.
Plastic waste generated in Singapore is either recycled or incinerated. Unlike in many other countries, plastic waste is not landfilled directly. As such, the environmental benefits of using biodegradable plastics do not apply in Singapore’s context. Biodegradable as well as oxo-degradable plastics could even interfere with the recycling process when mixed with conventional plastics.
A more sustainable approach for Singapore is to reduce the use of all disposables and increase the recycling of plastics. We are doing this through public education, and upstream regulation through the Resource Sustainability Act that will mandate key responsibilities to enable recycling at the systems-level.
To raise awareness of the impact of excessive consumption of disposables and the need to reduce usage, the National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the second run of the nationwide “Say YES to Waste Less” campaign last month. Operators of more than 2,100 premises have partnered NEA to encourage consumers to bring reusables and decline disposables for takeaways and online food orders. NEA also started a Citizens’ Workgroup last month to address the excessive consumption of disposables.
Moving upstream, NEA will be rolling out mandatory reporting of packaging waste for large generators as well as their plans for reducing, reusing or recycling packaging from 2021. This will increase companies’ awareness of the potential for waste reduction in their business operations. We will also implement a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) for beverage containers from 2022 and the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for managing packaging waste, including plastics, no later than 2025. Collectively, these measures will help to reduce plastic waste and improve its recycling rate, and contribute to the effort to extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill.