Reducing waste generation and increasing recycling are key priorities for Singapore. They reduce carbon emissions, save on finite natural resources, and extend the lifespan of Singapore’s only landfill, Semakau Landfill.
The beverage container return scheme will be implemented alongside existing recycling initiatives such as the National Recycling Programme and aims to:
a) Increase the recycling rate of beverage containers and reduce the amount of waste disposed of as well as carbon emissions; and
b) Raise consumer awareness on the importance of 3Rs (i.e., Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and encourage good recycling practices.
With a deposit in place, the scheme will encourage consumers to return their empty beverage containers for recycling. The Scheme will also aggregate clean and high-quality recyclables which can be made into new products.
This scheme was proposed by a Recycle Right Citizens’ Workgroup in 2019 to increase household recycling rates and reduce contamination in the recycling bins. Since 2020, NEA has been consulting various stakeholders extensively to co-develop a scheme that is suitable for Singapore, including through a REACH public consultation paper from 20 September 2022 to 14 October 2022 (more information including the findings are found here). A Stakeholder Group was also formed in December 2021 to facilitate the development of the Scheme. The Group comprises members from industry, academia, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Views and feedback from these engagements were carefully considered in the development of the Scheme.
The beverage container return scheme forms the first phase of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach to manage packaging waste in Singapore. EPR aims to make producers (e.g., manufacturers, importers) responsible for the collection and end-of-life management of the products they put on the market.
Under the Scheme, a refundable deposit of 10 cents will be applied on all pre-packaged beverages in plastic bottles and metal cans ranging from 150 millilitres to 3 litres.
The deposit will be fully refunded when the empty plastic bottles or metal cans are returned at designated return points. Larger supermarket outlets  with a floor area of more than 200m2 will be required to set up return points. Supermarkets are major sales channels of pre-packaged beverages and popular return locations.
Figure 1 – Consumer journey in the Scheme
Beverage producers will pay for and run the collection and recycling of empty beverage containers. All producers of pre-packaged beverages that supply beverages in Singapore will have to join a Scheme Operator to fulfil their obligations under the Scheme. They would register as members. They would also register their beverage products and pay fees (per container placed on the market) to the Scheme Operator to collect and recycle empty beverage containers on their behalf. The Scheme Operator will manage the operations of the Scheme, including management of empty beverage containers, collection and refunding of deposits.
Figure 2 – Overview of the Scheme
Licensing of the Scheme Operator
The Expression of Interest for a licence to operate a beverage container return scheme in Singapore has closed.
More details on the licensing of the scheme operator will be made available in the future.