Singapore's growing population and booming economy have contributed to a 7-fold increase in the amount of solid waste disposed from 1,260 tonnes a day in 1970 to a peak of 8,741 tonnes a day in 2021.
Solid waste management in Singapore begins at homes and businesses. Waste that is not segregated at source is then collected and sent to the waste-to-energy plants for incineration. Incineration reduces the volume of solid waste by about 90% and energy is recovered to generate electricity.
The ash residues from the incineration process are sent to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station (TMTS) and, together with non-incinerable waste, are barged over to Semakau Landfill for disposal.
Currently, Singapore's solid waste disposal infrastructure consists of four waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, viz: TuasOne Waste-To-Energy Plant (TWTE), Keppel Seghers Tuas Waste-To-Energy Plant (KSTP), Tuas South Incineration Plant (TSIP) and Senoko Waste-To-Energy Plant (SWTE).
KSTP was developed under a Design, Build, Own and Operate (DBOO) model and commissioned in 2009 to replace Singapore's first WTE plant at Ulu Pandan, which was closed in August 2009 after 30 years of operation. The Senoko Incineration Plant was also divested to the private sector in September 2009 and has since been renamed Senoko Waste-to-Energy Plant (SWTE). TWTE was also developed under a DBOO model and commissioned in 2021 to replace Singapore's second WTE plant (i.e. Tuas Incineration Plant), which was closed in February 2022 after 36 years of operation.
The incineration of solid waste reduces its volume by about 90%. This has helped land-scarce Singapore extend the life span of Semakau Landfill.
For a comprehensive view of the incineration process, please click here.
Tuas Marine Transfer Station
Ash from the waste-to-energy plants and non-incinerable solid waste are brought to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station (TMTS), a unique facility that allows solid waste to be unloaded directly from vehicles into long barges. Specially designed tugboats then push the covered barges on a 3-hour long journey to Semakau Landfill located 30km away from TMTS.
For a more comprehensive view of the waste management process at TMTS, please click here.
Semakau Landfill opened on 1 April 1999 and is currently Singapore’s only landfill. Covering an area of 350 hectares, it is expected to meet the country’s solid waste disposal needs up to 2035 and beyond. In 2021, the landfill received an average of 2,098 tonnes of incineration ash and non-incinerable waste each day.
Measures taken during the landfill’s construction to protect the marine environment ensured that the coral reefs along Pulau Semakau’s western shore remain largely intact. The two plots of replanted mangroves are also thriving.
For a more comprehensive view of the solid waste disposal process at Semakau Landfill, please click here.
Development of Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF)
NEA is looking into the development of an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) to help Singapore meet its future waste management needs and achieve long term environmental sustainability. As a state-of-the-art flagship facility, it will be developed with innovative solutions that can maximise both energy and resource recovery from solid waste. As the IWMF and the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (TWRP) will be co-located at the same Tuas View Basin site, various synergies will be derived to benefit both NEA and PUB.
Click here for more details on the development of the IWMF.