betty August 23, 2022

SINGAPORE – More options to refill products such as detergent and drinks in Singapore can lower over 110,000 tonnes of carbon emissions generated from disposing of domestic packaging waste here last year, or the equivalent of over 350 dumpster trucks travelling around the circumference of the earth.

These were among recommendations of a report on Tuesday (Aug 23) by the Singapore Environment Council and KPMG to improve the management of packaging waste here, which historically has relatively high generation and low recycling rates.

Toothpaste tablets, for instance, can be packaged in refillable storage containers instead of toothpaste tubes or unnecessary paperboard packaging, the report said, citing US-based company Bite.

Last year, about 523,000 tonnes of domestic packaging waste were discarded, contributing to emissions, said chairman of the Singapore Environment Council Isabella Huang-Loh. This is sufficient to fill more than 1,000 Olympic-sized pools.

Singapore’s only landfill, Semakau Landfill, is expected to run out of space by 2035 at the current rate of waste generation.

This comes despite the bulk of more than 1,000 local consumers surveyed for the report saying they have an appetite for eco-friendly packaging.

Most, however, were hindered by barriers such as cost, insufficient information on such packaging and its benefits.

About 65 per cent of respondents also said they depended on the Government and businesses to inform them on purchasing and recycling sustainable products.

“(Demand for disposable packaging) will continue to grow with the insatiable desire of our consumers, so again, in line with promoting the shift towards recycling and reducing waste, we should be looking at the business model… B2B business is extremely important to empower green consumerism to change their habits,” said Ms Huang-Loh.

To encourage the flow of packaging materials in a circular manner, stakeholders including brand owners and e-commerce businesses must act, she said.

Redesigning products, such as by substituting plastics for paper, can potentially reduce the amount of waste from 510,000 tonnes to 306,000 tonnes, the report noted.

Other recommendations proposed improvements such as creating a separate collection point for biodegradables, in addition to recyclables.

Currently, there is only one bin for recyclables, resulting in food contamination.