News | May 29, 2012

Enhancements To The Solid Waste Management Industry

Industry to raise productivity and standards; public waste collection sector to consolidate; households can expect improved public waste collection services

Singapore - As a follow up to the Budget Debate announcements in March, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will roll out its plans to develop a more robust and efficient waste management industry. With the upward trend in waste growth, and as more land and facilities are needed to manage waste, these enhancements are essential to manage waste growth by minimising waste and recovering resources from waste even as recycling rates improve.

The plans for enhancements are intended to help address challenges such as the scarcity of land for waste facilities, the need to reduce waste and promote greater recycling, as well as the need to raise the overall industry standards and productivity. Optimal land use and productive use of land, together with efforts to create a strong and vibrant industry that delivers high service standards, will also ensure sustainability and affordability of waste management services.

Three key thrusts for a better waste management industry

To achieve the objective of developing a robust and efficient waste management industry, three key thrusts have been identified. These are 1. To maintain a highly efficient waste collection and disposal system to deal with large volumes of waste while upholding high standards of public hygiene and ensuring affordability; 2. To continue to encourage and facilitate consumers and businesses to practise the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) by fostering partnerships and introducing regulations; 3. To introduce better ways to optimise land use for waste collection and disposal facilities.

Enhancements targeting the various segments are:

-  For the consumers and businesses, measures will be implemented to enhance outreach on the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) while infrastructural improvements are piloted to achieve improved waste minimisation and recycling rates. A second Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) will be launched and it will be a mandatory requirement for large commercial premises to report their waste management data from 2014.

-  For companies involved in waste collection, recycling and disposal, NEA is working with them to raise standards and productivity, and leverage technology and innovations.

-   For solid waste management industry as a whole, NEA is consolidating the public waste collection sectors and embarking on feasibility studies for better waste management solutions.

Measures to improve waste minimisation and recycling for the consumers and businesses

Several measures to sustain efforts in recycling and encourage the public to minimise waste and recycle have been introduced. These include infrastructural improvements such as standardised bins with informative labels to educate the public on what can be recycled. A dedicated chute for recyclables at each block at Treelodge@Punggol to encourage recycling is also being piloted. As more people recycle, the increase in recyclables collected would encourage recycling companies to manage more waste streams as the increase in volume would make it economically viable.

For businesses, we will strengthen voluntary partnerships. For a start, a second SPA will be launched in July 2012 with new targets to reduce packaging waste by 6,500 tons annually, and to bring on board a total of 315 signatories by 2015. A total of 138 signatories have expressed interest to participate in the second SPA. The first SPA, which commenced in 2007, achieved a reduction of 7,100 tons of packaging waste with an estimated $14.9 million in savings over a four-year period.

Measures targeted specifically at large commercial premises will also come into effect to enhance the 3Rs. Hotels with more than 200 rooms and shopping malls with net lettable areas of more than 50,000 square feet, are required by law to report waste data and submit waste reduction plans (including setting of targets) from 2014. Such a reporting exercise would help build greater awareness among building managers to improve their premises’ waste management systems.

Measures to enhance waste management for companies involved in waste collection, recycling and disposal

NEA is working with the industry to set higher standards and to adopt innovative technology to improve productivity and raise the level of skills.

One such effort to improve the professionalism of the sector is the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) programme introduced last year. NEA has made it a requirement for all General Waste Collectors (GWCs) to have their workforce trained and certified under the WSQ programme. The 340 GWCs have been given up till end 2013 to comply. 

Measures to consolidate the waste management industry

To help the PWCs reap cost savings from economies of scale, and reduce the duplication of resources while ensuring that the market remains competitive, NEA will be consolidating the current nine public waste collection sectors into six.

This will also help the public waste collection sector realise efficiency gains and mitigate rising costs in labour and fuel, and raise standards and productivity while leveraging technology and innovations.

To facilitate the industry consolidation, NEA will be introducing a Uniform Fee (UF) progressively across all sectors as the public waste collection contracts are due for renewal over the next two-and-a-half years. The UF consolidates public waste collection fees so that households eventually pay the same fee for the same waste collection service across all sectors according to their housing type (i.e. HDB, landed).

For a start, NEA will be implementing a UF of $7.00 and $23.19 for HDB households and landed residential households respectively in Pasir Ris-Tampines and Bedok sectors from 1 July this year. As more contracts for other sectors are renewed, the UF will be progressively reviewed and implemented, first in October 2013 and the next in January 2015. The contracts for all sectors will be renewed by 31 August 2014, and all sectors will be paying the UF by January 2015.

To optimise the use of limited land and landfill space and address the scarcity of land for waste facilities, the NEA has called for a tender in April 2012 to look into an Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF). NEA will be appointing a consultant to conduct engineering and consultancy studies to develop the conceptual design of the IWMF, and to recommend engineering design and technology options to optimise resource and energy recovery from waste.

A Pneumatic Refuse Conveyance System (PRCS) will also be implemented at Marina Bay district by 2015. As the population in Singapore grows, a district PRCS presents an important solution to improve the quality of environment in a high-density setting. PRCS is an automated waste collection system. Refuse is conveyed by air suction through a network of pipes to a central location for collection. PRCS is being increasingly adopted as a sustainable solution for waste collection in cities such as Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. It can potentially transform waste collection services from a low-skilled, dirty, labour-intensive activity to a high-skilled, clean and high productivity one. 

NEA will also be working with the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS) to form three workgroups to identify areas for further improvements in the areas of standards and productivity, work safety framework and adoption of innovation and technology. This would further raise service standards and improve productivity of the industry as a whole.

Better service standards for public waste collection

In the new PWC contracts, households can look forward to a cleaner environment through improved service standards, such as through the use of quieter and cleaner vehicles and compactors. PWCs will be able to respond more quickly to public feedback through a 24-hour customer service hotline. The PWCs will also be providing better recycling infrastructure such as recycling bins of standardised design for each HDB block. Households can also look forward to new incentive schemes for recycling offered by the PWCs.

Mr Andrew Tan, CEO of NEA said, “The consolidation of the waste management industry will allow us to raise the overall standards, skills and productivity of the waste collection sector while ensuring efficiency and affordability. It will benefit households, the industry players, and workers in this sector as we move towards a more sustainable waste management system in Singapore.”

SOURCE: The National Environment Agency

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