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World Environment Day 2017 – Growing efforts from the public and private sector, with increased focus on waste reduction

On World Environment Day this year, both the public and private sectors in Singapore upped up their efforts for environmental protection with a series of plans and initiatives. These include:

  • the unveiling of the Public Sector Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean,
  • the introduction of mandatory reporting of packaging data and packaging waste reduction plans and the Logo for Products with Reduced Packaging by National Environment Agency,
  • the launch of ReCYCLE, a nationwide electronic waste recycling programme by Singapore Post and Singtel
  • the official opening of the Singapore Sustainable Academy by CDL and Sustainability Energy Association ofSingapore.

Under the Public Sector Sustainability Plan, environmental targets are set with regards to the use of electricity, water, building, waste and solar energy for FY2020 and achieve them through better resource management. Transparency and Disclosure is one of the main components guiding the Plan [1]; we can expect progress against targets to be communicated. The Plan reinforces Singapore’s commitment to the Paris Agreement of reducing emissions intensity by 36 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels [2].

The Public Sector Sustainability Plan is published by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), under the Sustainable Singapore campaign.

The National Environment Agency, an agency under MEWR, also introduced initiatives to reduce packaging waste. The launch of the Logo for Products with Reduced Packaging (LPRP) will help inform consumers of products that has reduced packaging and hence generate less waste. Mandatory reporting of packaging data and packaging waste reduction plans will also be introduced by 2021, for businesses that uses packaging on consumer goods [3].

The announcement of mandatory reporting of packaging data and Waste Reduction Plans by 2021 was made by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, during the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) [1]. Reduction of packaging waste makes business sense for winners of the 10th SPA awards.  Greenpac for example avoids 4.13 tonnes of packaging material and reaps about $17,200 a year in material cost savings after redesigning a microscope packaging to use lighter polypropylene (PP) corrugated sheets instead of wood [4]. Sunfresh Singapore has estimated annual cost savings of $1,320 with a reduction of 0.28 tonne of plastic packaging waste by eliminating plastic liners in their deliveries of aluminium cups [4].

Given that one-third of about 1.66 million tonnes of waste disposed in 2016 by Singapore was packaging waste [1], these initiatives are appropriate and timely.

Waste reduction was the theme of some initiatives by the private sector as well.

Singapore Post and Singtel for instance launched ReCYCLE, a nationwide electronic waste recycling programme. Consumers can now drop unwanted electronic devices into the ReCYCLE bins at selected Singtel outlets and Post Offices at no charge. Valuable metals and components in the devices would be recovered [5].

At the official opening of the Singapore Sustainable Academy (SSA), winners of the 6th CDL Singapore Sculpture Awards presented artwork that utilised the SSA’s residual building materials, in line with this year’s theme of ‘Towards Zero-Waste!’ [6].

The SSA is a training and networking facility on sustainability jointly created by City Developments Limited (CDL) and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS), a non-profit organisation. Among other sustainability-related events, the SSA will be a platform for CDL’s Women4Green initiative, the first sustainability network for women in Singapore. The SSA will also partner Eco-Business to set up a Sustainability Studio for the production of sustainability-related films [6].

The ReCYCLE programme and the Singapore Sustainable Academy are great examples of how partnerships between sectors can work together to achieve better environmental outcome. Indeed, that collective effort by all sectors in the economy are required to make progress, and it is heartening to see initiatives by both the public and public sector this World Environment Day.

World Environment Day started in 1974 by the United Nations, and is celebrated on 5 June by over 100 countries every year [7].

 

References

[1] https://www.mewr.gov.sg/news/press-release—singapore-launches-sustainability-plan-to-chart-green-course-for-public-sector

[2] http://www.pmo.gov.sg/newsroom/dpm-teo-chee-hean-opening-ceremony-singapore-sustainability-academy

[3] http://www.nea.gov.sg/corporate-functions/newsroom/news-releases/nea-to-introduce-mandatory-reporting-of-packaging-data-waste-reduction-plans-by-2021

[4] Singapore Packaging Agreement, ‘3R Packaging Awards 2016’

[5] http://recycle.sg/

[6] http://www.cdl.com.sg/images/press_release/20170605.pdf

[7] http://worldenvironmentday.global/en/about/what-is-it

 

 

COP 21 Paris Agreement: the first global consensus on climate change

On 12 December 2015, the first ever universal agreement on climate change was adopted by 195 nations. The deal was made at the Paris Climate Change Conference, also known as the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Major points of the agreement include a capping of global temperature rises at 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels, and net-zero emissions by second half of the century. These climate change mitigation goals are accompanied by financing and review mechanisms, taking into account countries’ differentiated levels of responsibility and vulnerability to climate change.

The Paris Agreement also sends a clear signal to global markets to move to a low-carbon economy. As noted by Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishan, and Edward Cameron, managing director of partnership and research at non-profit Business for Social Responsibility, the universal and legally-binding nature of the agreement, together with a transparent method of tracking each country’s performance provides the assurance to businesses that governments will support low-carbon projects for the long term.

Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on climate change said Singapore will work towards the pledge of reducing emissions intensity by 36% from 2005 levels, by 2030, and stabilising emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030.

National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) Document 2012

Launched on 14 June 2012 by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister at the National Climate Change Youth Conference in Singapore, the NCCS 2012 outlines Singapore’s strategy and plans to address climate change. The National Climate Change Secretariat developed NCCS in collaboration with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change and with inputs from private and public groups.

The strategy plans to reduce emissions by 7% to 11% against Business As Usual (BAU) 2020 levels projected at 77.2 million tonnes CO2-equivalent. If there is a legally-binding global agreement in which all countries implement their commitments in good faith, this target will be increased to 16% below BAU 2020 levels.

Apart from reducing emissions, the strategy aims to build capabilities and expertise on climate science and adaptation. Studies are already ongoing to learn more about the effects of climate change on the island state. Moreover, growth opportunities are identified specifically on developing a cleantech industry.

Lastly, the Singapore government recognizes the importance of keeping and establishing partnerships in addressing climate change. These partnerships include private sector collaboration, public consultations, NGO engagement, and international participation to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

For more information and developments to NCCS 2012, please visit http://app.nccs.gov.sg