Opening Statement by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, at the US-ASEAN Business Council 2021 Virtual Singapore Business Mission Meeting on 4 August 2021
1 Good morning to those who are tuning in. I thank the US-ASEAN Business Council for organising this meeting. It is a good opportunity to touch base again following our session in November last year.
SINGAPORE GREEN PLAN
2 Since our last meeting, the world is still suffering from COVID-19. The pandemic has affected countries and placed a strain on livelihoods and businesses. But, as you may recall, I mentioned then that this crisis also gives us an opportunity to rebuild and recover in a more sustainable and resilient manner. This is especially true for a city-state like Singapore which is not endowed with natural resources.
3 In February this year, Singapore launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 as a whole-of-nation masterplan to advance our sustainable development agenda and climate action. There are five pillars in the Green Plan: City in Nature, Sustainable Living, Energy Reset, Green Economy, and Resilient Future. Each pillar sets out ambitious and concrete sectoral targets over the next decade. Today, I will elaborate on two pillars of the Green Plan – Green Economy and Sustainable Living.
4 First, to achieve emissions reduction, green goals and green growth must be mutually-reinforcing. Under the Green Economy pillar, we will seek new green investments, help our enterprises leverage sustainability as a competitive advantage to grow our economy, and green our industries' production and energy usage. This includes transforming Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park and turning island resort Sentosa into a carbon-neutral tourist destination.
5 As climate change and environmental policies are increasingly shaping economic growth and trade, sustainability must be mainstreamed into economic activities. We need to facilitate trade and investment in environmental goods and services, as well as develop new green capabilities. These can only take off if countries agree on common rules and standards. This is why Singapore has announced that we are exploring a Green Economy Agreement with Australia, which would aim to promote trade and sustainability in tandem.
6 Under the Sustainable Living pillar of the Green Plan, our people will reduce carbon emissions and embrace sustainability by consuming less, recycling more, and taking public transport. We are working towards our vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation powered by a circular economy, with "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" as a norm for citizens and businesses.
7 Last year, I mentioned that we enacted the Resource Sustainability Act in 2019 to put in place an Extended Producer Responsibility framework, or EPR, to boost the recycling for three priority waste streams of e-waste, food waste, and packaging waste including plastics. I am happy to share that we have started the EPR for e-waste just last month, covering batteries, ICT equipment, large appliances, lamps and solar PV panels. Companies are also collecting data on the amount of packaging they are introducing into the Singapore market, and will report this data along with their 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) plans to the National Environment Agency (NEA). As the first phase of the packaging EPR, we will introduce a beverage containers return scheme. We are consulting the public and the industry actively to develop a scheme that is cost effective and suitable for Singapore. The EPR approach will encourage companies to price in environmental externalities, and design products that require less materials, last longer and are more easily recycled in the long run.
8 We will continue to invest in infrastructure and R&D to close resource loops. We are studying the use of incineration bottom ash as construction material, which we call NEWSand. The field trial for the use of NEWSand for road construction is ongoing, paving the way for us to maximise resource recovery and extend the lifespan of our only landfill. We are also looking at chemical recycling to turn plastic waste into pyrolysis oil that can be processed into feedstock to make new plastic products and chemicals. NEA and Shell have embarked on a joint study to determine the technical and commercial viability of chemical recycling in Singapore. NEA is also conducting a consultancy study on a pilot plastic recovery facility to recover plastic waste from general waste as feedstock for chemical recycling.
IMPORTANCE OF PARTNERSHIPS
9 I wish to reiterate that the Government's efforts alone cannot achieve a sustainable Singapore. The green economy and circular economy present many new opportunities for businesses to innovate and create new solutions. Today, many companies already subscribe to the sustainability agenda, and we hope more companies will integrate sustainability into their long-term business models.
10 The public and private sectors can both be catalysts of change. Given that the US and Singapore share a common vision of sustainability for the future, I remain of the view that the US-ASEAN Business Council is an important partner in Singapore's economic development and green recovery, and look forward to continued engagement with you to ensure that our priorities remain relevant to the needs of businesses.
11 Thank you.