Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Domestic Recycling Rate by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) what are the factors contributing to the decline in Singapore’s domestic recycling rate in 2022 which has reached its lowest point in more than a decade despite efforts to promote recycling; and (b) with the target of achieving a domestic recycling rate of 30 percent and an overall recycling rate of 70 percent by 2030, how will the Ministry ensure that its policies and actions are aligned with these targets and effectively reverse the current downward trend in recycling rates.
1 In 2022 as the COVID-19 pandemic tapered off, the amount of waste generated in both the non-domestic and domestic sectors increased, as economic and social activities picked up. Singapore’s overall recycling rate also increased from 55 per cent in 2021 to 57 per cent in 2022. However, the domestic recycling rate dropped slightly from 13 per cent in 2021 to 12 per cent in 2022. Other than increased waste generation, the decrease in recycling rate was due to a decrease in quantities of recyclable paper/cardboard and textile/leather exported for recycling. Due to a weakened demand from export markets for such recyclables and higher freight and fuel costs compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, recyclers are more selective on the types of recyclables that they collect for export. On the other hand, the entry of new recycling companies dealing with certain waste streams in Singapore has raised the recycling rate of waste streams such as glass.
2 Recycling remains a key priority for Singapore as it enables us to reduce carbon emissions and achieve a circular economy, and extend the lifespan of our Semakau Landfill. We are focusing efforts on three priority waste streams to reach our recycling targets. On e-waste, our first Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme was implemented in 2021. With a network of more than 700 collection points deployed island-wide, the scheme provides a convenient avenue for households to recycle regulated consumer e-waste. On packaging waste, a beverage container return scheme will be implemented in 2025 to increase the recycling of plastic bottles and metal cans. On food waste, new commercial and industrial premises that generate large amounts of food waste will be required to segregate their food waste for on-site treatment from 1 Jan 2024.
3 The National Environment Agency is also pressing on with its outreach and engagement efforts, such as the Say YES to Waste Less and Recycle Right campaigns, to increase public awareness on how to recycle right and encourage Singaporeans to be more resource conscious. To encourage and facilitate households to Recycle Right, the recent Bloobox initiative provided households with recycling boxes to set up recycling corners at home.
4 We need to embrace sustainability, and proactively incorporate the 3Rs into our daily routines. We will need everyone’s collective efforts in order to achieve our national recycling rate targets.