Written reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Domestic Waste Disposal and Recycling, on 3 November 2020
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether domestic non-recyclable waste disposal rates have increased significantly in the past six months due to work-from-home arrangements; and (b) whether domestic recycling rates have increased in tandem.
1 The domestic non-recyclable waste collected by the Public Waste Collectors (PWCs) from domestic and trade premises did not change significantly in the last six months. The PWCs collected an average of 3,340 t/day of waste from April to June 2020. This fell slightly to 3,265 t/day between July and September 2020. This is similar to the waste collected (3,241 t/d) in March 2020, before work-from-home arrangements were widely adopted.
2 The daily average amount of recyclables collected by the PWCs in April to June 2020 was 20% lower than in March 2020. The decrease is largely attributed to the suspension of the Cash-for-Trash recycling programme and door-to-door collection by PWCs during the Circuit Breaker period. However, the daily average amount of recyclables collected in July to September increased significantly, exceeding March 2020 levels by 11%.
3 While we have seen a shift in consumption patterns brought about by COVID-19 and work-from-home arrangements (e.g. more online shopping, food delivery and takeaway), we have continued to encourage the community to adopt good 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) habits. For example, NEA published a Food Wastage Reduction Handy Guide, with tips to help consumers reduce food waste. As part of the Say Yes to Waste Less campaign, NEA is also emphasizing waste reduction measures, such as bringing reusable food containers for takeaway and not opting for disposable cutlery. We have also started a Citizens’ Workgroup to co-create solutions with members of the public to reduce the excessive consumption of disposables. We look forward to hearing participants’ ideas on how we can reduce the use of disposables, whether working from home or at our workplaces.