Estimating Carbon Tax Payable by Consumers in Singapore to Incinerate Food Waste

 Ho Lip Teng | Jude Chen | 09 March 2023

· Carbon Accounting,Carbon Tax,Singapore,Food Waste,Waste management

Singapore disposed a significant amount of food waste, estimated to be around 663,000 tonnes in 2021. Currently, this waste is mostly incinerated, and the bottom ash is sent to landfill. However, shifting towards a food waste segregation approach can help address the issue of increasing bottom ash to the landfill and promote sustainable waste management practices. Food waste segregation is one critical step for the Singapore government’s way ahead in achieving net zero. Segregated food waste can then be used for other purposes, such as composting, anaerobic digestion, or animal feed.

Businesses can expect rising costs if food waste was not segregated. Disposed food waste in Singapore is currently is sent for incineration, which has greenhouse gas emissions. The current carbon tax can be imposed on the incineration plants, where the cost will be translated down to the businesses.

Estimated Carbon Tax on Food Waste

Assuming a carbon content of 40% in the food waste, the amount of CO2 emissions generated by incinerating 663,000 tonnes of food waste with a 40% carbon content would be approximately 973,524 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or 973,524 tCO2e. Thus, if carbon tax was imposed on the emissions arising from incinerating disposed food waste would be:

  • From 2021 to 2023: S$5/tCO2e x 973,524 tCO2e = S$4,867,620
  • From 2024 to 2025: S$25/tCO2e x 973,524 tCO2e = S$24,338,100
  • From 2026 to 2027: S$45/tCO2e x 973,524 tCO2e = S$43,807,580

By diverting food waste from landfill and using it for other purposes, such as composting or anaerobic digestion, Singapore can reduce the amount of food waste incinerated.

Food waste segregation conserves resources. Food waste contains valuable nutrients and organic matter that can be used to enrich soil and improve agricultural productivity. Businesses that can produce relatively homogenous food waste can send it for composting to produce rich and consistent fertilisers for the local agriculture. Less homogenous but well-segregated food waste can be diverted to anaerobic digesters, which can be used to produce biogas for power generation. While this may not directly reduce the CO2 emissions, it can possibly lower the proportion of piped and liquefiedincineiin natural gas that Singapore is heavily reliant on (energy security). By 2025, Singapore shall have its Food Waste Treatment Facility completed at Tuas Nexus, designed to treat 400 tonnes/day of source-segregated food waste for biogas recovery.

By promoting food waste segregation and other sustainable waste management practices, Singapore can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources while businesses can potentially save money. Given Singapore's limited land area and finite landfill capacity, it is important to shift towards more sustainable waste management practices to ensure a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future for the country.