Speech by Minister Grace Fu - Accelerating Towards a Sustainable, Resource-Efficient and Climate-Resilient Future
Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment at MSE's COS Debates 2021, 4 Mar 2021
Accelerating Towards a Sustainable, Resource-Efficient and Climate-Resilient Future
1 Several Ministers have spoken earlier about climate change and our responses under the SGP30.
2 I will now share MSE's work in three areas: (i) building our climate resilience; (ii) decarbonising our water sector; and (iii) moving towards a Zero Waste Nation.
BUILDING OUR CLIMATE RESILIENCE
3 COVID-19 has underscored the importance of building resilience in our systems.
a. We have started preparations to deal with the long-term effects of climate change.
b. This includes investing strategically in R&D and our infrastructure.
4 Sea-level rise poses an existential threat to Singapore.
5 Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Ms Poh Li San and Ms Nadia Ahmad Samdinasked about our plans to protect Singapore's coastlines against rising sea levels.
a. In April last year, PUB was appointed the national coastal protection agency to safeguard Singapore's coastlines against the threat of rising sea levels, while managing inland flood risks.
b. We will implement coastal protection measures in phases, beginning with the more vulnerable parts of our coastlines.
6 This year, PUB and JTC will embark on site-specific studies at the coastlines of City-East Coast and Jurong Island.
a. Potential measures to be examined include sea walls, polders and nature-based solutions like mangrove planting.
b. In developing these plans, we will search for innovation in complementing our land use, sea space needs and the natural environment. Some of the suggestions from Dr Lee Wee Kiak are interesting and I will take them into consideration.
7 Climate Change has caused more intense rainfall, and more serious and frequent flooding.
8 As Ms Cheryl Chan has said, it is important to develop a comprehensive and coordinated understanding of Singapore's level of flood resilience.
9 To holistically manage both inland and coastal flooding risks, PUB will be developing the Coastal-Inland Flood Model this year.
a. This computational model will simulate flood risk events and evaluate effectiveness of coastal infrastructure designs against different climatic scenarios.
b. This will equip PUB with capabilities to plan and implement adaptation measures.
10 Mr Gan Thiam Poh and Ms Hazel Poa asked about PUB's long-term measures to mitigate inland flood risks.
a. In the last decade, PUB has invested almost $2 billion on drainage works.
b. When designing drains and canals, PUB considers factors such as the extent and type of development, overall terrain and design rainfall intensity.
c. Key projects include the Bukit Timah First Diversion Canal and Stamford Detention Tank.
d. Over the next five years , we will invest another $1.36 billion.
e. Ten projects will commence this year, including drainage works at Seletar North Link and Serangoon Avenue 2 and 3.
11 Despite our best efforts to improve our drainage system, it is not possible to completely eliminate flash floods.
a. It is not practical to build ever bigger drains to meet every extreme rainfall event in land-scarce Singapore.
b. This is why we introduced the holistic 'Source-Pathway-Receptor' approach to managing flash floods.
a. This addresses flood protection by arresting water at source (such as detention tanks), expanding capacity of pathways (such as drains and canals), and deepening capacity of receptors, in low-lying areas.
12 As Dr Lim Wee Kiak rightly pointed out, coastal and flood protection is a long-term and large-scale effort.
a. To ensure adequate and reliable resourcing, we established the Coastal and Flood Protection Fund under PUB last year with an initial injection of five billion dollars.
b. DPM announced at Budget that the Government intends to issue new bonds under the proposed Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act, or SINGA, to finance infrastructure including for coastal and flood protection.
Keeping Singapore Cool
13 Global warming and rising temperature is another issue that we must grapple with.
a. This is compounded by the Urban Heat Island (or UHI) effect.
b. When temperature rises, we turn up air-conditioners, which in-turn generate more heat in the surrounding, resulting in a vicious cycle.
c. Built-up areas such as the CBD can be more than 3 degree Celsius hotter than our parks.
d. High temperatures can be uncomfortable for our daily activities, or increase the risk of heat injuries at the workplace, sports and military training.
14 Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked about the measures taken to reduce the UHI effect and heat emissions.
15 We will adopt three mitigation strategies:
a. First, we will measure, gather data and close our knowledge gaps on the UHI effects by deploying a network of sensors island wide.
b. Second, we will develop simulation models of the UHI effects under the Cooling Singapore 2.0 Research Project. This will help us better plan and right-site open spaces and greenery to provide comfort for our residents.
c. Third, we will develop and implement a UHI mitigation action plan. This will include piloting the use of cool materials, increasing urban greenery, and reducing heat emissions through district cooling.
16 Decarbonisation and improving energy efficiency will continue to be our focus.
17 Mr Louis Ng asked if we can publish a ranking of top emitters.
a. We agree on the need to provide a strong impetus for companies to reduce emissions, and will continue to study how we can spur this meaningfully.
DECARBONISING OUR WATER SECTOR
18 Next, on decarbonising our water sector.
19 Ensuring resilient water supply has been our focus since independence.
a. With bold and innovative solutions, we have closed the water loop and reused our water endless times.
b. However, our water demand will continue to rise with population and economic growth, even as climate change brings about more erratic rainfall and dry spells.
c. Weather-resilient sources, such as NEWater and desalination, will be key pillars of our future water strategy.
20 We must ensure that in achieving water sustainability, we do not become more reliant on energy and increase our carbon footprint.
a. In the same bold and innovative spirit that enabled us to close the water loop, MSE will strive to break new frontiers in decarbonising the water sector.
100% Green Waterworks
21 Last year we announced the construction of one of the world's largest floating solar panel system at Tengeh Reservoir.
a. We are on track to complete construction this year.
b. This will generate enough solar power to meet the energy demands of our five local water treatment plants, making Singapore one of the few in the world to have a fully green waterworks system.
22 Ms Poh Li San asked for our plans for future floating solar panels, and for improving energy efficiency of water treatment.
a. PUB will complete deployment of two floating solar panel systems at Bedok and Lower Seletar Reservoirs this year.
b. PUB and EDB are also exploring potential deployments in Upper Pierce and Kranji Reservoirs respectively. The environmental impact assessments are under way.
Low-Energy NEWater and Desalination
23 Decades of R&D efforts led to our NEWater and desalination solutions.
24 Today, PUB is undertaking R&D efforts to reduce energy use.
a. One promising example is the Flow Reversal technology in the reverse osmosis stage of NEWater production.
b. This has been shown to improve NEWater recovery rate from 75 per cent to 90 per cent with the same energy consumption.
c. Through scaling up more efficient technologies, PUB aims to reduce the energy required to produce one cubic metre of desalinated water from 3.5 kilowatt hours to 2 kilowatt hours, by 2025.
25 Even as we opened our fourth desalination plant in Marina East, I am pleased to announce that our fifth desalination plant in Jurong Island will be completed this year.
a. The Plant will be co-located with Tuas Power's existing Tembusu Multi-Utilities Complex, boosting resource synergies across energy, and seawater intake and outfall structures.
Low-Carbon Water Treatment Facilities
26 Last year, we reported that work has begun on Tuas Nexus - Singapore's first integrated solid waste and used water treatment facility.
a. It is set for completion in phases from 2025.
b. It will harness synergies across the water-energy-waste nexus to maximise energy and resource recovery, enabling it to be fully energy self-sufficient and even export electricity to the grid.
27 Building on Tuas Nexus, NEA and PUB plan to co-locate a food waste treatment facility at Changi Water Reclamation Plant.
a. The co-digestion of food waste and used water sludge generates additional biogas, providing more electricity for Changi Water Reclamation Plant.
b. Co-location also reduces the carbon footprint, as food waste collected in the east can be sent to Changi, instead of to Tuas Nexus in the west.
c. NEA expects to embark on the preliminary design study for the food waste treatment facility in the first half of this year.
28 Through our green waterworks, low-energy water production and low-carbon water treatment, the next chapter of our water story will be written in a green and sustainable manner.
MOVING TOWARDS A ZERO WASTE NATION
29 I will now touch on waste.
30 We set ambitious targets under our Zero Waste Masterplan in 2019.
a. Our national goal is to achieve a 70 per cent overall recycling rate, and reduce the amount of waste sent to Semakau Landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent by 2030.
b. Under the Green Plan, we aim to frontload our waste-to-landfill reduction efforts over the next five years, to achieve a 20% reduction per capita per day by 2026.
31 We can achieve this if everyone plays their part, consuming less, wasting less, and recycling more.
32 At the same time, we need a paradigm shift from a linear take-make-throw economy to a circular economy where waste is turned into resource and used over and over again.
33 The Government surely cannot do this alone.
a. We need businesses, individuals, and all partners to come on board.
b. Let me share our plans on three priority waste streams – e-waste, food waste and packaging waste including plastics.
Closing the E-waste Loop
34 Let me start with e-waste.
35 As Mr Louis Ng pointed out, Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste a year.
a. E-waste contains valuable resources like precious metals, which we can recover to reduce mining of raw materials.
b. However, only about six per cent of the e-waste disposed of by consumers is recycled via public recycling programmes.
36 This is why we have introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility (or EPR) framework for e-waste.
a. This places responsibility on producers to collect and send their products for proper end-of-life treatment at e-waste recyclers licensed by the NEA.
37 As Mr Melvin Yong and Mr Lim Biow Chuan askedabout Electric Vehicles batteries. It will be included in this framework.
a. The recyclers will have to adhere to depollution requirements and meet material recovery targets.
b. This ensures that our e-waste do not pollute the environment, and useful resources are recovered for reuse.
38 To Mr Louis Ng's query, we are on track to start the EPR this July.
a. We recently appointed ALBA Group as the Producer Responsibility Scheme (or PRS) Operator to manage the physical collection and treatment of e-waste on behalf of the producers, who will finance the scheme.
b. NEA is working closely with ALBA and industry stakeholders to set up the collection infrastructure.
39 Come July, the public can look forward to more ways to recycle e-waste.
a. In addition to the mandatory requirement for large retailers to offer instore collection service of e-waste,we have secured support from owners of other premises, such as shopping malls and Community Clubs, to place e-waste recycling bins at publicly accessible areas within their premises.
40 To ensure the success of the EPR, NEA is working with premises owners and ALBA to raise awareness.
a. ALBA intends to launch a website and mobile app to provide information on the EPR, including the types of e-waste covered and the recycling locations.
41 Individuals, too, can drive ground-up efforts on e-waste recycling.
42 Take Mdm Lalitha for instance.
a. She chairs the Woodlands Environmental Committee and led an initiative to install e-waste recycling bins that was well-received by Woodlands residents.
b. Between October 2018 and March last year, about 338kg of e-waste was collected.
c. She had the following message to share, and I quote: "Environmental conservation is a self-initiated mission. When you lead by example, others will be inspired to follow".
d. Let us play our part for the environment, just like Mdm Lalitha, and inspire our families and friends to do the same.
Closing the Food Waste Loop
43 Next, on food waste.
44 We are driving nationwide efforts to reduce and recycle food waste through outreach efforts and regulatory measures.
45 Last year, we announced the requirement for food waste at large commercial and industrial premises to be segregated for treatment.
46 Mr Louis Ng asked if these premises should also report the amount of food waste segregated.
a. Indeed, we are considering a framework for these premises to measure and report the amount of food waste segregated for treatment.
b. This will highlight to them the amount of food waste they generate and the potential to reduce wastage.
c. We will start industry consultations on this in the second quarter of the year.
47 Aside from mandatory measures, we will closely support businesses in their efforts to close waste loops.
a. NEA has been seeking applicants for its 3R Fund, a co-funding programme to support businesses in implementing waste reduction projects.
b. Parkway Parade received funding to install a new food waste treatment system on its premises, and actively reached out to tenants to segregate their food waste to be treated.
c. Between 2017 to 2020, Parkway Parade successfully diverted 1,200 tonnes of food waste from disposal.
Closing the packaging waste loop
48 Packaging waste is our third priority waste stream.
a. It accounts for about one-third of domestic waste disposed of, comprising materials such as plastic, paper, metal and glass.
b. While incineration reduces the volume of packaging waste, we can do more to reduce, reuse and recycle them.
49 We will put in place an EPR framework for packaging waste, starting with a Deposit Refund Scheme (or DRS) for beverage containers.
50 To Mr Louis Ng's question, we have been engaging the community and industry to develop a DRS framework for Singapore.
a. We plan to introduce the legislative framework for the DRS by 2022, and implement it in 2023.
b. The transition period will give industry time to set up the collection and recycling infrastructure.
c. We will continue to engage stakeholders and we welcome all to participate in shaping Singapore's own DRS framework.
51 Another important aspect in recycling packaging waste is building up our local recycling capabilities.
52 More than half of our domestic packaging waste disposed of is plastics.
53 We are pursuing both mechanical and chemical recycling solutions, the latter which can take in contaminated plastics that are not suitable for mechanical recycling.
a. NEA and Shell are jointly studying the feasibility of chemical recycling in Singapore, including the carbon savings potential of diverting plastic waste from incineration to produce pyrolysis oil, or NEWOil, as feedstock for petrochemical plants.
Towards a Zero Waste Nation, together
54 One issue that has captured public attention is the excessive consumption of disposables.
a. This includes single-use plastics which Mr Louis Ng and Mr Dennis Tan have asked.
b. Disposables have a short lifespan and contribute significantly to our carbon footprint and waste.
c. Under GreenGov.SG, the public service is considering measures to reduce the use of disposables, and will be announcing more details later in the year.
55 Citizens are also actively co-creating solutions with us.
56 In line with the SG Together movement, we convened a Citizens' Workgroup in September last year.
a. Fifty-five citizens of various backgrounds jointly came up with recommendations to address the issue of excessive consumption of disposables.
b. They presented their recommendations to my Ministry and NEA in January.
57 We are heartened by the wide range of ideas, from policies such as a mandatory carrier bag charge, to behavioural nudges such as visual cues in supermarkets.
a. We will share our responses to the recommendations next month and publish them on the Clean and Green Singapore website.
b. Where feasible, we will co-deliver them with the participants and other partners.
58 It is our hope that all Singaporeans will have a growing consciousness to care for the environment, reduce their consumption and waste less.
a. In so doing, we can make sustainable living a way of life and achieve our vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation together.
59 Mdm Chairperson, 2020 has been a rough year for Singapore and the world.
a. It has shown us that the current way in which we consume, our habits and the way we treat our planet is not sustainable.
b. But amidst the gloom, there were also many new and hopeful beginnings.
60 We look forward to working with all Singaporeans to take a green leap forward in 2021 towards a sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient future for our nation.
61 I will now hand over to Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor.