Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the Packaging Partnership Programme Conference, on 24 March 2021
Mr Terence Ng, Executive Chairman, TES
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to officially open the TES-B plant today. This marks a significant milestone in our national efforts to address e-waste.
Our E-Waste Challenge and Framework
2 Singapore generates about 60,000 tonnes of e-waste a year. This is equivalent to each person discarding about 70 mobile phones per year. We expect this number to increase as consumer spending rises with new technologies in electronic gadgets being introduced. With greater electric and hybrid vehicle adoption, lithium-ion batteries will add to our e-waste. E-waste, if not treated properly can lead to environment degradation.
3 Under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, we aim to reduce the waste sent to our Semakau landfill by 20 per cent, by 2026. This brings forward our earlier target of a 30 per cent reduction by 2030. To achieve this target, Singapore is adopting a circular economy approach towards the management of our waste. We see waste as a resource to be harvested. This is most evident in e-waste, where precious metals and working components can be extracted.
4 To ensure proper treatment of electrical and electronic equipment, we implemented the Extended Producer Responsibility (or EPR) framework under the Resource Sustainability Act. This approach makes the producers responsible for the proper end-of-life management of their products. From July this year, producers of regulated consumer electrical and electronic equipment, that exceed the prescribed supply threshold, must join and finance the Producer Responsibility Scheme (or PRS). We have appointed Alba to be the operator of the PRS, which will manage the collection of e-waste from the public and delivery to the licensed recyclers.
5 To close the waste loop for electronic products, we are building our local recycling capabilities for e-waste to ensure that valuable resources are re-used in our economy. The opening of the TES-B plant is timely, given the increase in used lithium batteries. The facility will have an annual recycling capacity of 5,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries. The plant is able to extract and recover more than 90 per cent of precious metals. And for metals such as lithium and cobalt, the extraction rate is almost 99 per cent, allowing them to be ready for reuse as new feedstock. In addition, TES's hydrometallurgy recycling process is more environmentally sustainable with lower carbon emission compared to conventional recycling methods. By closing the loop on lithium battery, TES-B has brought Singapore a step closer to realising a circular economy.
3P Collaboration to Realise our Zero-Waste Vision
6 TES has been a longstanding partner in Singapore's sustainability journey. Founded in Singapore in 2005, TES has grown to become one of the largest e-waste recyclers internationally with operations in 22 countries. Locally, TES has been a member of NEA's National Voluntary Partnership for E-waste Recycling since 2016. It has attained the R2 Responsible Recycling standard, an industry benchmark for good recycling practices. The NEA recognises the efforts of our NVP partners by providing funding to support recycling programmes and publicising them.
7 The TES-B plant is a further testament to our 3P (Private, Public and People) partnership approach in implementing our policies and initiatives. The Economic Development Board and the National Environment Agency (or NEA) supported the company in setting up and operating the facility. Representatives from both agencies are present today. TES is also contributing to the research and development of energy storage solutions. Last year, a company from the TES Group, GenPlus, won a research grant from the Energy Market Authority and Enterprise Singapore to develop and test-bed an innovative way to tackle photovoltaic intermittency. In the RIE2025, we hope to bring our national R&D institutions to the enterprises and encourage more companies to co-invest in R&D with us.
8 We can do more if we work together. As the Government implements the EPR Framework, we call on more corporate partners to join the National Voluntary Partnership and help build public awareness of recycling, raise the recycling standards in the industry and contribute to the refinement of our Framework. We hope to work with our partners to collect electrical and electronic equipment which are not yet regulated, such as small household appliances.
9 Let me conclude. As part of our Green Plan, Singapore is making a significant push to realise our vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation. The success of our efforts will bring about both environmental and economic benefits as we strengthen our resource resilience, develop our local recycling capabilities and turn trash into treasure. I welcome more companies to partner the Government in building a circular economy. As individuals, let us also do our part by practising the 3Rs of reducing, reusing, and recycling.