Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Recycling Programmes by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what are the mechanisms for overseeing recycling programmes by state agencies and vendors to ensure that recycling is completed as promised; and (b) whether there will be a review to strengthen the system in light of news reports on issues with implementing such a programme.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) how does the Ministry ensure that recyclables collected are properly recycled according to the intended objectives as published; and (b) how many cases of collected recyclables being misused have been reported in the past five years.
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment how does the Ministry overcome challenges that may prevent more regular and public reporting on the efficiency and effectiveness of sustainability programmes that it implements through third party vendors.
Mr Leong Mun Wai: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether any safeguards or controls are in place over the export of trash, second-hand items, or other wastes not covered under the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act 1997 from Singapore to countries that prohibit the import of such items; and (b) if so, what are they.
1 Singapore’s recycling landscape includes both national programmes led by the National Environment Agency (NEA), and non-governmental programmes led by corporations and community organisations.
2 Under the National Recycling Programme, Public Waste Collectors licensed by NEA are required to send collected recyclables to licensed Materials Recovery Facilities for sorting, processing and recycling. Recycling facilities are licensed by NEA and must meet requirements, such as ensuring their operations do not endanger public health, only receiving and processing the waste stream approved in its licence, and submitting records to NEA on the amount of waste received and processed.
3 Under the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for e-waste, NEA requires the scheme operator to send the collected e-waste for proper treatment at licensed e-waste recycling facilities. The recyclers contracted by the scheme operator are not allowed to transfer e-waste collected under the scheme overseas unless they are able to demonstrate that the foreign recycler is able to treat the e-waste to a similar or better standard. They must also submit regular reports to NEA on the amount of e-waste received and processed.
4 Under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which Singapore is a Party to, it is illegal to export hazardous and other wastes, as defined by the Basel Convention, without Prior Informed Consent from the state of import or transit. Relevant permits are also required from NEA under the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act.
5 For the export of recyclables that are not covered by the Basel Convention, such as sorted streams of ferrous, non-ferrous metals, and textiles, companies would have to adhere to the relevant domestic regulations of the importing countries. The companies would also have to be accountable to the organisers of the recycling programme and the donors of the recyclables, based on contractual agreements and conditions that were agreed upon.
6 All segments of society have a part to play in recycling right to achieve our vision of a Zero Waste nation. We need to strike a balance between ensuring appropriate levels of regulation and governance, and not imposing overly onerous requirements which would inadvertently discourage voluntary recycling initiatives.
7 My Ministry and NEA will continue to monitor our recycling landscape and strengthen our processes as necessary.