Our Clean Land Policy in a Nutshell
REDUCING AND RECYCLING OUR WASTE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
We are producing an increasing amount of waste.
We have to cut down on the amount of waste we generate as we are running out of space to dispose them.
MINIMISING THE VOLUME OF WASTE DISPOSED
Singapore currently has only one active landfill. To conserve our limited landfill space, we incinerate as much waste as we can to reduce the volume going to the landfill. Through incineration, we can reduce the volume by as much as 90%.
Excess heat from these Waste-to-Energy incineration plants provides about 2% of our electricity supply.
DISPOSE HAZARDOUS WASTE SAFELY
Many industries produce hazardous waste and generate by-products that pose health risks to both people and the environment.
Strict regulations are administered by NEA to ensure that such waste is properly managed.
Our Key Targets
Extend the lifespan of Semaku landfill.
Achieve 70% recycling rate by 2030.
Our Main Plans
Campaigns such as #RecycleRight and Say Yes to Waste Less spread the importance of recycling and waste reduction. All HDB blocks have access to recycling bins. Waste collectors also encourage household recycling by introducing recycling incentive programmes.
Industrial waste form up to 40% of the total amount of waste we produce. Their efforts to recycle materials and good waste management practices will bring us closer to our aims.
NEA licenses public waste collectors and general waste collectors to bring solid waste disposed to our Waste-to-Energy plants and the Semakau landfill.
Illegal dumping of waste of any kind is a serious offence. It pollutes the environment and can be a hazard to public health.
NEA enforces various acts to protect our public health.
Most packaging for consumer goods, such as food, drinks, and electronics, is used just once before being thrown away.
Packaging makes up about one third of all household waste in Singapore and more than half of this consists of packaging for food and drinks.
Unnecessary packaging is not only a drain on resources, it is also adds to the production of waste. Given the lack of space for another landfill in Singapore, we need to reduce the amount of waste we produce to prolong the lifespan of our landfill for as long as we can.
Installing The Habit Of Recycling Packaging
Many people and companies simply throw packaging away without a thought, especially if the packaging was not designed to be reused or easily recycled.
Promoting Responsible Packaging Practices
Often, elaborate packaging is used to make products look better. Consumers can help change wasteful practices by rejecting products that have excessive packaging.
Redesigning And Reducing Packaging Production
The National Environment Agency (NEA) introduced the voluntary Singapore Packaging Agreement in 2007. Companies which sign the Agreement commit to reducing their packaging waste over a period of five years.
They do this by redesigning their production processes, reducing the size and thickness of the physical packaging produced, eliminating unnecessary packaging, and changing the way that products are packaged.
Increasing The Amount Of Packaging Recycled
Under the agreement, companies also agree to increase the amount of packaging recycled and use more recycled or recycle-able materials when producing packaging. Building owners and hotel and shopping mall managers have also signed the Agreement, committing to provide recycling facilities for their tenant.
Raising Awareness Among Consumers
Companies also try to raise awareness and educate consumers on the benefits of reducing packaging waste. For instance, Tetra Pak has been running educational programmes in the school to encourage students to recycle used beverage cartons since 2008.
Companies Cut Back On 10,000 Tonnes Of Packaging
Since the Singapore Packing Agreement was launched in 2007, the companies that signed the Agreement have reduced the amount of packaging produced by up to 46,000 tonnes.
These companies also saved $100 million in the process. The number of signatories has grown from 32 companies to the current 229.
Recycling is one way to minimise the amount of waste we create. Often, items are discarded without any thought to how they can be given a second life.
Singapore has only one landfill. Recycling is an important way of cutting down the amount of waste that goes into the landfill and reducing the cost of disposal.
The recycling rate in Singapore currently stands at about 60%, up from 40% in 2000.
However, we can do better. In 2018, only about half of the total amount of paper and cardboard waste were recycled and just 4% of plastics were recycled.
We aim to increase the recycling rate to 70% by 2030.
More than 80,000 bins have been placed in HDB and landed estates across the island.
Since April 2018, all new non-landed private residential developments above four storeys are required to install dual chutes for refuse and recyclables. All condominiums have also been required to provide one recycling per block since August 2018.
We will continue to make recycling accessible to all residents.
In line with population and economic growth, the volume of waste produced has increased more than six-fold over the past 40 years. In 1970, we were producing some 1,200 tonnes of waste each day. Today, the amount has grown to more than 8,700 tonnes per day.
Without an efficient waste collection system in place, piles of rubbish would accumulate near homes and workplaces and create breeding grounds for pests and poses threats to public health.
Due to our hot and humid weather, organic waste rapidly decomposes and starts to smell unpleasant. On top of the discomfort, uncollected waste promotes the breeding of disease-carrying vectors, such as mosquitoes, in our environment.
To protect public health, waste generated has to be collected and disposed promptly and safely.
Today, there are now 4 public waste collection companies operating in 6 sectors, each with 100,000 households and trade premises. Rights to manage waste are competitively tendered by these companies.
In addition, there are more than 300 approved general waste collectors that serve commercial and industrial premises.
Incineration is necessary for Singapore as land is limited. Incineration is able to reduce the volume of our waste to as little as 10 per cent of its original volume. This results in lower waste volumes being sent to our landfill.
However, as ash from incinerated waste eventually has to go into our landfill and we have only one landfill, incineration alone cannot deal with the ever-increasing amount of waste that we are producing.
Incineration Plants Cost Us Space And Money
Incineration plants are very expensive to build and operate. They also take up large areas of land. We cannot keep building more incineration plants indefinitely.
Pollutants During Incineration
Pollutants, such as NOx, SO2, dioxin and particulate matter, are produced in the process of incineration and they affect our air quality.
Tapping Private Sector Expertise
The Government increased private sector participation in the incineration industry. Singapore’s fifth incineration plant was built and operated by a private company through a Design, Build, Own and Operate arrangement.
Treating Pollutants Before Release Into The Environment
All incinerators in Singapore have been fitted or built with pollution control equipment to protect our air quality. The flue gas produced during incineration is treated to remove most of the pollutants in order to meet safe environmental standards before being released into the air.
NEA has been encouraging people and industries to reduce their waste, reuse where possible and increase their rate of recycling.
Incinerating Less Than Before
In 2017, around 36% of all waste was incinerated, down from 51% in 2001. The reduction of waste and increase in recycling will also help to delay the building of new incineration plants. Instead of building one every 5-7 years, we can build one every 8-10 years.
Ash May Be Recycled Instead Of Landfilled
After the success of developing the use of incinerated bottom ash (IBA) for road material, NEA will continue to explore other uses for treated ash so as to extend the lifespan of our sole remaining landfill, Semakau.
We only have one landfill left.
Each year, we send about 200,000 tonnes of solid waste and all incineration ash to the Semakau landfill. At this rate we are sending waste there, it will run out of space by around 2035.
As there is no available land for landfill on mainland Singapore, Semakau Landfill had to be created by enclosing 350 hectares of sea space between two offshore islands. Semakau Landfill opened on 1 April 1999 and is now the only one we have.
Landfills require space. We have already used up large tracts of land on mainland Singapore, in various areas such as Choa Chu Kang, Lim Chu Kang and Lorong Halus.
The Semakau Landfill had to be constructed out of sea space due to our land constraints. It is difficult for Singapore to continually build landfills to handle our growing amount of waste. We need to look for more sustainable solutions to handle our waste.
The Zero Waste Masterplan sets a new waste reduction target for Singapore - to reduce the waste sent to Semakau Landfill each day by 30 per cent by 2030. This will help extend Semakau Landfill's lifespan beyond 2035. Grab a copy of the Zero Waste Masterplan here!
Reduce Volume Of Waste By Incineration
Incinerable waste is sent to our four incineration plants, and the ashes end up at Semakau landfill.
Incineration can reduce waste volume by over 90%!
The excess heat energy produced contributes to about 3% of our electricity supply.
Prolonged Lifespan of Semakau Landfill
Through recycling and other waste minimisation efforts, we are progressively lengthening the lifespan of our last landfill.
The Related Laws
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND MANAGEMENT ACT (Cap 94A)
The Act covers pollution control, hazardous substances control and licensing of industrial plant works among others.
ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH ACT (Cap 95)
The Act lists out regulations for public services such as general waste collection, swimming pools and food hygiene among others.
HAZARDOUS WASTE (CONTROL OF EXPORT, IMPORT AND TRANSIT) ACT (Cap 122A)
The Act regulates the movement of hazardous wastes among others.
RADIATION PROTECTION ACT (Cap 262)
The Act controls the import and export of radioactive materials and other related apparatus as well as the disposal, accumulation and transport of radioactive.