Unlike the linear economy, the circular economy focuses on designing waste out of the resource ecosystem and maximising the value of resources by keeping them in use for as long as possible.
Many countries, such as the Netherlands,
Finland, China and Japan, already adopt this
approach in their national agenda, driven by
resource scarcity, volatile resource prices, and
the environmental impact from extraction and
excessive use of resources.
Even as we learn from other countries, we
need to examine Singapore’s context and
pinpoint how a circular economy is relevant
to us. Adopting a circular economy approach
can help to contribute to building up three
“Resiliences” to sustain Singapore’s future.
The adoption of the circular economy
approach will require measures to be
taken across the entire value chain, from
production and consumption to waste and resource management. Measures include
better product design that reduces the
amount of resources used at production,
change in consumer habits where products
are repaired instead of replaced with new
ones, and the recycling of waste and their
reintroduction into the value chain.
A circular economy approach will require measures to be taken across the entire value chain
We have already embraced the circular
economy approach in several areas through
our successes in closing a number of
resource loops. Almost all construction
waste and metals are recycled.
We have also closed the water loop. By
combining water and sanitation, Singapore
is able to endlessly recycle water, reusing it
again and again. Every drop of used water
is collected and treated, turning much of it
into drinking water again. This has allowed
Singapore to reintroduce up to almost
800,000 m3 of ultra-pure recycled water into
our system each day.
Closing the water loop in Singapore. Credit: PUB
SETTING NEW TARGETS TOWARDS ZERO WASTE
Under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint
2015, we set the 2030 target of increasing
our national recycling rate to 70%, domestic
recycling rate to 30% and non-domestic
recycling rate to 81%.
Through the adoption of the circular economy
approach and the efforts outlined in this
Masterplan, we want to go beyond
Achieving this target will require the
successful implementation of the various
measures outlined in this Masterplan,
including those to better manage our priority
waste streams of food waste, e-waste and
packaging waste, including plastics.
Support from all segments of society will also
be needed to take closing our waste loop to
the next level. Individuals should play their
part by recycling right and not contaminating
our blue recycling bins. Businesses that
produce the most electrical and electronic
equipment or packaging will be required to
take a life-cycle approach to products. Large
food waste generators must also ensure
that food waste is properly segregated and
Lastly, the research and development
community will be crucial in developing
solutions and technologies that enable us
to turn our waste into resources, such as
through the use of incineration bottom ash by
turning it into NEWSand.
WHAT DOES THE WASTE-TO-LANDFILL REDUCTION TARGET MEAN FOR EACH PERSON?
Today, each person disposes of 800g of
waste per day.
To achieve our waste-to-landfill reduction
target of 30%, each person needs to reduce
the total amount of waste they dispose of
per day to 640g by 2030. This adds up to a
reduction of about 30 bananas or 15 glass
bottles per month. It’s that simple!