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Singapore aims for Zero waste in packaging

The NEA will be introducing mandatory requirements for more sustainable packaging waste management.

Singapore’s governmental body, The National Environment Agency (NEA), will be imposing requirements for the packaging industry to work towards a more sustainable packaging waste management. The requirements will be implemented within the next three to five years. The initiatives are part of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015, which aims to make the country a ‘zero waste’ nation.

In 2015, NEA reported 1.73 million tonnes of domestic waste disposed of in Singapore; equivalent to more 3,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. One third of this waste consists of packaging waste.

In an effort to reduce the growth of packaging waste at source, NEA will be implementing mandatory requirements for businesses within the next three to five years.

From December 2015 to May 2016, the governmental organisation engaged stakeholders to discuss possible introduction of mandatory requirements for Singapore. Response from the industry was generally positive, as companies recognise the need to have a framework to motivate further actions to be taken to decrease waste. NEA will take the feedback from the industry into consideration in working out the details of the mandatory requirements.

Meanwhile, NEA will work with the industry to develop its capabilities in the 3Rs of reduce, reuse and recycle, and establish the best 3R practices through the second Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA).

Singapore Packaging Agreement

The Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) was first introduced in 2007 for five years, and a second Agreement took effect on 1 July 2012 when the first Agreement expired. The second Agreement, originally due to expire on 30 June 2015, was extended for five years till 30 June 2020.

NEA plans to enhance the agreement to work towards a goal of a total annual reduction of 10,000 tonnes of packaging waste by 2020, with 2007 as the base year.

Hosted on its website (www.nea.gov.sg/SPA), NEA launched a packaging benchmarking database in October 2015. The database allowed companies to compare the packaging weight of their products against similar products sold locally. Since its launch, 10 more product categories have been added to the list.

The Agreement has 177 signatories consisting of businesses, industry associations, non-governmental organisations and public waste collectors. Since its inception, about 32,000 tonnes of packaging waste has been collectively reduced. The efforts of the signatories have also resulted in cumulative savings of more than $75 million in the material costs of locally consumed products.

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