Singapore to Accelerate Energy Recovery, Material Recovery and Special Waste Treatment

New SGD15 million capability-building funding on waste management launched

by Mallika Naguran

Singapore, 5 June 2009. Technological competencies in waste management in Singapore are set to grow with the government’s latest injection of seed funding.

An SGD15 million programme on environment technology research or ETRP was launched on World Environment Day by the Singapore Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. This capability-building initiative is meant to support on-going R&D in clean environment in the form of grants in three main areas: energy recovery, material recovery and special waste treatment.

Promising areas of research could range from ways to increase thermal efficiency of incineration processes, technologies to increase recyclable yield of high-value waste streams and methods to remediate old landfills rapidly and safely.

With the application of advanced technologies, the government aims “to help close the waste loop”, said Minister Yaacob Ibrahim. “We have identified a few potential R&D areas to invest in, such as waste-to-energy processes, recovery of high-value materials from used plastics and electronics, and the recycling of incinerated bottom ash (IBA) and fly-ash to divert them from the Semakau Landfill,” he added.

The Semakau Landfill is Singapore’s only offshore island that has been converted into a dumping ground to hold incinerated ash and non-incinerable waste generated by 4 million people living on the mainland. When it was first built in 1999, the landfill was projected to hold waste for another 25- 30 years. With a better rate of waste recycling achieved in 2008, however, the lifespan has increased to 35-40 years.

This improvement is due to the result of integrated waste management strategies by the National Environment Agency (NEA). Despite the improvement, Singapore has to address the huge waste generated at source, which stood at 2.63 million tons in 2008 – enough to fill about 310 soccer fields at a man’s height.

Waste recycling is a key strategy adopted by NEA. With the release of the ETRP, we will see greater and more exciting transformation of waste into something usable. One company that is already researching and commercialising into such marvels is Chemilink. It turns soil waste into high performance materials, and one such project involved recycling in-situ soils and stones to widen the runway of Singapore airport in preparation of the Airbus A380.

Its Managing Director and CEO, Dr Wu Dong Qing, is hopeful that the grant will give their R&D a much-needed boost. “With the ETRP, we are able to invent and upgrade more effective, efficient energy-saving and cost competitive solutions for zero-waste management…” he said. He added that this would reduce “the national dependency on imported new construction materials.”

To ensure that the new research done with the grants can be commercialised, NEA will open up key facilities such as waste-to-energy plants and landfills for test bedding and validation. This enables solutions to be tested and adapted in Singapore before they are exported.


About the Environment Technology Research Programme (ETRP)

Administered by Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI) and the Naitonal Environment Agency (NEA), the SGD15 million research fund will be deployed over three years. Each project is capped at SGD3 million.

Most of the research activities are required to be carried out in Singapore to facilitate knowledge sharing and technology transfer to the Singapore environmental industry.

EWI will call for the first Request-For-Proposal (RFP) in July 2009 and another in January 2010.  The RFP will be scheduled twice a year, in January and July.

Visit for more details.

 Related article on Gaia Discovery:  Singapore 3R Fund