What should I do with my waste in Singapore?

By Ho Lip Teng | Jude Chen | 06 Jan 2023

· Singapore,Waste management,Statistics,Zero Waste

In Singapore, waste that was not segregated and/or recycled are sent to the Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants for energy recovery. The ash residues, together with non-incinerable waste, are then sent to Semakau Landfill for disposal, which is expected to be at capacity by 2035. The Singapore Government has introduced the Zero Waste Masterplan to extend Semakau’s capacity beyond 2035. To understand what we can do as individuals or businesses, let’s first understand what are the key areas of concern in Singapore’s waste management.

The Scale of Solid Waste in Singapore

In 2021, an average of 1.6kg of waste was generated by everyone, everyday in Singapore! 55% of that was not recycled, causing a total of 3.11 million tonnes of solid waste disposed in 2021.

Some waste streams are harder to recycle than others. In Singapore, the top three waste categories in terms of annual disposed tonnage are (in the order of highest to lowest): (1) plastics, (2) paper/cardboard , and (3) food. Categories such as metals, construction and demolition, horticultural, wood, and scrap tyres waste are much better managed in its recycling efforts (Reason: homogenous waste and segregation at source).

Singapore’s waste statistics 2021 at a glance. (Source: NEA’s statistics)

Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan

To pivot into the next leg of waste management, the Singapore Government announced the The Zero Waste Masterplan in 2019. It has three main objectives.

  1. Extend Semakau Landfill’s lifespan beyond 2035
  2. Reduce amount of waste sent to landfill per capita per day by 30% by 2030
  3. By 2030, achieve a 70% overall recycling rate:
  • 81% non-domestic recycling rate
  • 30% domestic recycling rate

To meet the targets, the Singapore Government is prioritising initiatives and policies on food waste, e-waste, and packaging waste (e.g. plastic, paper/cardboard, metal, glass). Individuals, households, and businesses of all sizes can expect these requirements to be rolled out over the next few years that will affect them economically and also in their daily lives.

Table 1: Broad waste related initiatives that are expected to be in place and rolled out

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What can individuals, households, and businesses do?

To save some money through better waste management, individuals and households can:

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For home composting, click here.

For commercial waste audit, profiling and management strategy, click here.

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