ADDRESS BY MINISTER GRACE FU AT THE DBS FOUNDATION X NEA HUNGRY FOR CHANGE CHALLENGE 2023
ON 21 AUGUST 2023
1 Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for inviting me to the DBS Foundation and NEA’s Hungry for Change Challenge.
2 When we talk about climate change, sustainability of the Earth is very much at the core of our discussions. This year’s Earth Overshoot Day fell on 2 August. It marks the date when humanity’s demand for resources exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate in that year. How do we develop and allow our people to enjoy the better things of life, the fruits of prosperity and yet, be sustainable, such that we are not overdrawing our resources.
3 As we recover from COVID, we are also generating more waste (7.39 million vs 7.28 million tonnes), recycling less (57% vs 59%), and sending more waste to the incinerator (3.2 million vs 2.98 million tonnes).
4 The top two waste streams are ferrous metal and construction and demolition but we recycle well, with 99% recycling rate. The next three waste streams are paper/cardboard, plastics, and food with very low recycling rates. Paper/cardboard ranged between 37% to 55%. Plastics at 4% to 6% and food at 16 to 19%.
5 There are many reasons for fluctuations such as the cost of recycling, which includes freight and transport costs, the need for recycled materials and the commodity prices of raw virgin products.
6 Over five years from 2018 to 2022, food waste generated has increased by 6.6%, while waste to incineration or disposed increased by 4.7%, which means we are recycling better. The trend is in the right direction, but we can and need to do a lot more.
7 Agriculture accounts for 18 per cent of total greenhouse gases emissions, yet 40 per cent of food is wasted from farm to table. Therefore, reducing food waste could go a long way in our climate mitigation efforts.
8 Singapore recognises the importance of effective resource management in our fight against climate change. We adopt a “producers’ pay” principle where cost is applied at generation or disposal so that incentive to reduce waste is aligned.
9 We introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme to hold producers accountable for the collection and treatment of their products when they reach end-of-life. The EPR scheme for e-waste was introduced in 2021, and the appointed scheme operator has collected close to 12,000 tonnes of consumer e-waste to date. We will be extending this EPR approach to manage packaging waste, starting with the beverage container return scheme from 2025.
10 To better manage food waste, we will be introducing mandatory segregation and treatment requirements for industrial and commercial buildings such as hotels, shopping malls and factories, from 2024. With more circular production practices emerging, we also encourage businesses and industry to explore opportunities to transform food waste into higher value products.
11 However, we need more than legislation and Government policies to effect a circular economy. It is critical for the whole of society to build a national consciousness to care for the environment and encourage a shift towards more sustainable lifestyle and consumption habits.
12 We need an ecosystem where entrepreneurs and youths harness creativity and innovation to develop new ideas for solutioning, businesses adopt these solutions to transform their operations and amplify impact, and investors support the scaling up of these solutions.
13 The DBS Foundation and NEA Hungry for Change Challenge has been an enabler of this ecosystem by providing youths with the platform to testbed their solutions and with guidance to ensure commercial practicality and viability. I am heartened that participants of Hungry for Change Challenge are saving food from being discarded and repurposing by-products into new ingredients. I encourage more members of the industry to step forward and support these aspiring youths in driving greater impact with their ideas and solutions.
14 As we celebrate the achievements of the first edition of the Hungry for Change Challenge, I am delighted that DBS Foundation will continue this meaningful partnership with NEA. I thank all partners who have supported this initiative and hope that your contributions will inspire many others to join us on this collective journey. Together, we can do more to turn trash into treasure, and drive a circular economy to achieve our zero waste vision.
15 My colleagues and I look forward to hearing more success stories from the second edition of the Hungry for Change Challenge.