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Legislative Amendments To Address Packaging And Food Waste

06 Feb 2023


Singapore 6 February 2023 – The Resource Sustainability (Amendment) Bill was introduced for a First Reading in Parliament today. The proposed amendments seek to reduce packaging and food waste and aim to drive behavioural changes across Singapore to reduce waste and increase recycling.

2          The Bill proposes a legislative framework for three measures, namely a disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets, a beverage container return scheme, and a food waste reporting framework. The measures will contribute towards the national targets under the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the Zero Waste Masterplan: to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent, and to increase the national recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030. They will also help to extend the lifespan of our only landfill, Semakau Landfill.

Managing Singapore’s packaging waste with disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets and the beverage container return scheme

3          Packaging waste constitutes about one-third of domestic waste disposed of and about 60 per cent of this is plastic. In 2021, only 6 per cent of plastic waste disposed of was recycled.

Disposable carrier bag charge

4          Following extensive consultations, the disposable carrier bag charge was announced at the Committee of Supply debates in March 2022. The charge, applying to disposable carrier bags of all material types, will come into effect in mid-2023 to nudge consumers to shift towards the more sustainable habits of using reusable bags.

5          Larger supermarket operators will be required to charge a minimum of five cents for each disposable carrier bag provided to shoppers at their physical stores. The minimum charge has been kept low to moderate the cost impact on shoppers, while encouraging them to be mindful of the number of disposable carrier bags they take. To uphold accountability and transparency in the use of the proceeds, supermarket operators will be required to publish information on the number of bags issued, amount of proceeds received from the bag charge, and how the proceeds are used including the support of charitable or environmental causes.

6          For a start, this requirement will apply to supermarket operators with an annual turnover of more than $100 million, as they are better resourced to implement the requirements. This covers about two thirds of all supermarket outlets in Singapore, including NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong, and Prime supermarket outlets [1]. Supermarket operators with an annual turnover of less than $100 million are encouraged to voluntarily implement their own bag charges. Many such retailers have already done so.

7          As the public will continue to have access to disposable bags from other sources, the responsible practice of bagging waste before disposal should continue. Refer to thislink for more information on the disposable carrier bag charge and an infographic that answers commonly asked questions regarding the bag charge.

Beverage container return scheme

8            Under the beverage container return scheme, a small deposit will be applied when consumers buy certain pre-packaged drinks. Consumers can claim a full refund of the deposit by returning their empty beverage containers at designated return points. This will encourage consumers to return empty beverage containers and increase the recycling rate of beverage containers.

9          This scheme will contribute to zero waste efforts by cultivating recycling habits amongst Singaporeans as well as aggregating clean and high-quality recyclables. By increasing the supply and quality of recyclables collected, the scheme will also support the development of Singapore’s recycling industry.

10        Since 2020, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) and NEA have been consulting the industry, public and other stakeholders extensively to co-develop a scheme suitable for Singapore. Participants provided useful insights and feedback, which were taken into consideration when developing the scheme. Refer to this link for further information on the scheme and past consultations.

Closing Singapore’s food waste loop

11        In 2021, Singapore generated 817,000 tonnes of food waste, of which 19 per cent was recycled. Commercial and industrial premises account for approximately 40 per cent of the food waste generated in Singapore each year.

12        Owners or operators of industrial and commercial buildings, where large amounts of food waste are generated, are already required to segregate their food waste from 2024. To complement these requirements, they will also be required to measure and report the amount of food waste they have segregated for treatment.

[1] Based on 2021 annual revenue and data on SFA licensees.

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