Singapore 3R Fund to Boost Recycling and Waste Management

Singapore National Environment Agency launches SGD8 million 3R Fund

by Mallika Naguran

Singapore, 28 April 2009 – The National Environment Agency of Singapore (NEA) has launched a generous fund to raise the bar on recycling initiatives and projects to the tune of SGD8 million (about USD6 million).

With this fund, organisations and companies (those registered in Singapore only) can apply for financial assistance to overcome the start-up costs of facilities, and offset cost of technologies. The agency will co-fund up to 80% of the qualifying costs of new waste minimisation and recycling projects, subject to a cap of S$1 million per project.

It is hoped that with this funding, the recycling industry can do better in strengthening their resources to achieve economies of scale. Singapore companies and organisations will also run out of excuses in not giving the environment due consideration while running their operations, in particular, with regard to waste generation, handling and disposal. Singapore businesses are monster consumers of energy and materials such as paper, plastic, glass and batteries.

While there are feeble efforts in recycling food, plastic and glass, there is zilch in the recycling of batteries. Battery toxicity continue to pollute the island city, home to many species of birds and animals. Beyond that, the burden of waste bears heavy on landfills.

The Chief Executive Officer of NEA, Andrew Tan, said, “The 3R Fund is part of our efforts to encourage companies and organisations to find innovative ways to minimise or reduce the amount of waste going to our incineration plants and thus extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill.”

Singapore, already land scarce, may be forced to build yet another landfill if the current volume of waste generated continues to soar. Semakau Landfill was built on an island off Southern Singapore in 1999 after five dumping grounds in the country were already filled to the brim. Today, Semakau Landfill receives non-incinerable waste as well as incinerated waste ash daily on barges from four incineration plants on the mainland.

Tuas South incinerator can fire 3,000 tonnes of waste a day.

Tuas South incinerator can fire 3,000 tonnes of waste a day.

In 2005, 2.55 million tonnes of waste was disposed. This is a giant's leap from a mere half a million ton of waste disposed 35 years before, in 1970. According to NEA, the lifespan of Pulau Semakau landfill is expected to last 30 years until 2030. If the rising trend of waste generation is not curtailed, warns NEA, the lifespan may just get shorter. Hence the urgency in prolonging the lifespan by reducing waste generation.

The new funding can kickstart new waste sorting systems, the separate collection and recycling of batteries, and the separate collection of glass from F&B outlets, as well as separate collection of food and garden waste from landed homes, hawker centres and schools. All these efforts are currently not in practice in tech savvy Singapore.

The fund is meant only for new projects and any Singapore-registered organisation, including companies, non-profit organisations, town councils, schools, institutions and industry associations are eligible to apply.

Other NEA’s 3R initiatives ongoing in Singapore include: National Recycling Programme, Singapore Packaging Agreement, provision of recycling bins in public places, mandatory recycling receptacles in condominiums, schools’ recycling programme, public awareness and education programmes, development of the waste recycling industry, as well as building capabilities in waste management and recycling.

Visit National Environment Agency for more information.