With Singapore’s limited land and dense population, NEA understands that effective management of our water-energy-waste nexus is vital for a resource efficient and Zero Waste Singapore.
Setting Targets to Reduce and Recycle
Under Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan, we aim to increase our overall recycling rate to 70 per cent and reduce waste-to-landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent by 2030. This goal will be frontloaded to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in waste-to-landfill per capita per day by 2026 under the Singapore Green Plan 2030. Targets are set with plans of extending the lifespan of Singapore’s only landfill beyond 2035.
We also have 2030 targets to increase non-domestic recycling rate to 80 per cent and domestic recycling rate to 30 per cent.
Zeroing in on Food Waste
The Food Waste Fund (FWF) was launched in May 2020 during the pandemic as part of the SG Clean Campaign. The FWF is a one-off new fund aimed to incentivise premises to adopt food waste segregation and treatment solutions in order to improve cleanliness and reduce disamenities from food waste. It also supported premises owners and operators to segregate and treat food waste ahead of the mandatory requirements, as well as encourage those that would not be covered under the future mandatory framework to take up voluntary segregation and treatment at a time when environmental sustainability might not be their main focus. A total of 24 approved projects are supported under the FWF.
Encouraging E-waste Recycling Among Households
In January 2020, NEA conducted a trial to encourage e-waste recycling among residents by leveraging the period when residents traditionally do spring cleaning before the Chinese New Year festivities. Publicity posters on nearby Cash-for-Trash (CFT) stations were placed at lift lobbies of selected housing blocks to encourage households to recycle their unwanted e-waste. Survey findings revealed that more residents recycled their e-waste at the CFT station, and the proportion who disposed e-waste at blue recycling bins, an inappropriate mode for e-waste, also decreased. More residents also perceived recycling of e-waste to be convenient after they were made aware of a nearby CFT station.
Extending the Mandatory Waste Reporting Scheme
Large commercial premises are required to report waste data and submit recycling rate targets. In 2020, the mandatory waste reporting scheme was extended to include industrial premises with a gross floor area of more than 20,000 sqm, warehouses with a gross floor area of more than 50,000 sqm, and convention and exhibition centres with a gross floor area of more than 8,000 sqm. A total of 441 submissions from industrial premises and MICE venues for the 2020 reporting cycle were received by end March 2021.
Closing The Waste Loop with Innovative Solutions
NEA has been administering the $45 million Closing the Waste Loop (CTWL) Research and Development (R&D) Initiative to develop innovative solutions in resource recovery, landfill space conservation, and enhancing the sustainability of our waste management system. As of 31 March 2021, NEA has committed $27 million to fund 11 R&D projects on the treatment of and resource recovery from the priority waste streams – food waste, e-waste and plastic waste, and from residues such as incineration bottom ash and non-incinerable waste. Some of these projects have attracted industry interest, leading to seven industry project collaborations and a total of $1.6 million industry spending pledged, thus far.
One of these innovative solutions is developed by the NTU Singapore-CEA Alliance for Research in Circular Economy (SCARCE), which employs green chemical processes that minimise the use and generation of hazardous substances to recover precious metals from the e-waste. SCARCE has experimented using orange peel waste with citric acid to successfully dissolve and recover 90 per cent weight of metals, including nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium from spent lithium-ion batteries, and has licensed the technology rights to a venture capital company. The team is currently working with local companies to commercialise the technology in Singapore.
In addition, NEA has also launched grant calls on diversion of non-incinerable waste from Semakau Landfill and site investigation and characterisation at Phase 1 of Semakau Landfill for material recovery. Proposals received are being put through an evaluation and approval process.
Exploring New Uses for NEWSandTM
With Semakau Landfill projected to run out of space by 2035, NEA has been taking steps to extend its lifespan. One such effort was through finding alternative uses for treated incineration bottom ash (IBA) and other waste treatment residues known as NEWSandTM
. In September 2020, we commenced a field trial using treated IBA for the construction of road-base and sub-base layers along a stretch of Tanah Merah Coast Road. This field trial is to establish the on-site environmental conditions before, during and after the road construction. The environmental monitoring data and the long-term modelling results will be used to review the provisional environmental standards for NEWSandTM
. NEA is also conducting lab-scale tests on the use of treated IBA in non-structural concrete.
Turning Waste into Resources
NEA awarded three projects on pilot trials to be conducted at the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Research Facility in its first WTE test-bedding and demonstration grant call.
Two of these projects arose from upstream research conducted earlier under the WTE Competitive Research Programme. One is on membrane separation technology to produce oxygen-enriched air for enhancing WTE gasification processes, and the other is on upgrading of syngas for higher energy recovery and possible synthesis into high-value chemicals. The third project involves the production of biocoke derived from sewage sludge and biomass waste generated in Singapore to partially replace biomass charcoal as the auxiliary fuel for the high-temperature slagging gasification process.
Exploring Chemical Recycling of Plastic Waste
NEA has been exploring chemical recycling to complement existing mechanical recycling capabilities to close the plastic waste loop. Through chemical recycling, contaminated plastics that cannot be mechanically recycled, can be treated and converted into higher-value products such as pyrolysis oil, which can be used to manufacture new plastics and chemicals.
To ensure a steady supply of material, NEA is conducting a feasibility study on a pilot Plastic Recovery Facility that can take in domestic waste to recover various polymer types as plastic feedstock for chemical recycling. The consultancy study for the facility commenced in January 2021 and is expected to be completed by end 2021.
Encouraging Households to Take Climate Action
NEA and PUB launched the Climate Friendly Households (CFH) Programme on 28 November 2020 to encourage households to reduce their energy and water consumption, while saving costs in the long run. Under the CFH Programme2
, all one-, two- and three-room households in public housing estates can receive three types of e-vouchers amounting to $225, to offset the cost of purchasing energy or water efficient essential appliances. If all eligible households make the switch, the collective reduction in carbon emissions will be equivalent to taking 31,000 cars off the road and the water savings amount to 400 million gallons of water annually. This will help to fight climate change, and allow households to benefit from utility savings of around $40 to $120 per household annually.
Harnessing Waste Process Synergies with Tuas Nexus
As part of NEA’s long-term plan to meet Singapore’s solid waste management needs, NEA started planning the development of the Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) with PUB in 2013. We embarked on a joint preliminary engineering design study to assess the potential of harnessing process synergies by co-locating a solid waste treatment facility with a water reclamation facility. This led to the co-location of two mega facilities – the IWMF and Tuas Water Reclamation Plant, now collectively known as Tuas Nexus. Tuas Nexus will be able to reap co-location synergies across the water-energy-waste nexus to maximise energy and resource recovery, and optimise land use.
In FY2020, NEA commenced the construction of the WTE Facility (2,900 t/d) and Materials Recovery Facility (250 t/d) under Phase 1 of IWMF. The construction of the Sludge Incineration Facility (800t/d) and Food Waste Treatment Facility (400t/d) is scheduled to commence in the second half of 2021. Phase 1 of IWMF is expected to be completed in 2025, with the development of Phase 2, which comprises another WTE Facility (2,900 t/d), to follow thereafter.
IWMF has achieved the NEA Innovative Spirit Award at InNEAvation Awards 2020, the MSE Innovator Award at MSE Excellence Day 2021 and Minister’s Special Commendation Award at the then-Ministry of Environment and Water Resources Excellence Day 2020.
Moving Towards Sustainable Packaging
In FY2020, NEA implemented the Mandatory Packaging Reporting (MPR) framework as part of our effort to focus companies’ attention on the packaging of their products and the potential for reducing packaging use in their operations. Under the framework, producers of packaged products, which include brand owners, manufacturers and importers, as well as retailers such as supermarkets with an annual turnover of more than $10 million, are required to start collecting packaging data and develop plans to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging for annual submission to NEA.
The MPR will also lay the foundation for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework to manage packaging waste including plastics, which will be put in place no later than 2025. NEA will be introducing the legislative framework for the implementation of a beverage container return scheme by 2022 as the first phase of the EPR approach for packaging waste management.
To support companies in fulfilling their mandatory packaging reporting obligations, NEA has partnered the Singapore Manufacturing Federation on a joint capability development programme. The Packaging Partnership Programme will offer companies workshops and training courses to familiarise them with the MPR and serve as a platform for companies
to exchange best practices in sustainable packaging waste management.
Taking E-waste Recycling to the Next Level
From 1 July 2021, the public can recycle regulated e-waste comprising Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment, large appliances, light bulbs and tubes and batteries, through multiple collection avenues. The e-waste collection and recycling3
is carried out by ALBA E-waste Smart Recycling Pte Ltd, which has been awarded the licence to operate a Producer Responsibility Scheme (PRS) in Singapore for a period of five years, from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2026. Under the PRS, ALBA will send all e-waste collected to licensed e-waste recyclers. ALBA will also set up a data management system to track and report to NEA the amount of e-waste collected for treatment.