It can sometimes go unnoticed, but every day many of us are contributing to plastic waste through use of single-use plastic items. These include drinking straws, single-use plastic bags and plastic water bottles.
A single plastic bottle or container won’t melt the polar icecaps, but if the world uses plastic at our current rate, we would produce more than 300 million tonnes of plastic every year!
Industry has a key role to play
Industry has a key role to play in reducing plastic waste. There is critical need for innovations in recovery and treatment technologies, development of new, environmentally-friendly substitutes and product designs that better facilitate reuse or recycling of plastic.
To provide impetus for more actions to be taken to reduce waste, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources has outlined plans to reduce packaging waste. Singapore produced about 557,000 tonnes of packaging waste last year – a third of household waste – enough to fill more than 1,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Packaging waste, such as plastic containers, forms a large bulk of plastic waste.
By 2021, the Ministry seeks to mandate that businesses report on the type and amount of packaging they put on the market and their plans for reduction.
Through the Singapore Environmental Achievement Awards, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) seeks to emphasise the need for innovative solutions to reduce plastic waste, and facilitate the sharing of best practices among companies in dealing with plastic waste. Companies should also seek this opportunity to discover ways to spur behavioural change among consumers and encourage them to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.
The rise of green consumerism – is Singapore ready?
Besides companies, consumers also play an important role in reducing plastic waste here.
According to the 2015 Nielsen’s Global Sustainability Report, Singapore consumers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability credentials of the products they buy. Millennials in particular, expressed willingness to seek and pay more for sustainable offerings.
Paying attention to environmental sustainability is not just good for the environment, it is also sound business. With the rise of green consumerism, companies can better engage and encourage consumers to reduce use of plastics and other materials through incentive schemes, product labels and other initiatives.
A little help goes a long way – the SEC has been working with retailers and environmental NGOs to provide shoppers with reusable bags, encouraging them to reduce their use of single-use plastic bags.
With more companies on board, your combined green efforts will certainly help to support sustainable waste management in Singapore and lead us towards a zero-waste nation.
Be recognised for your environmental credentials by taking part in the Singapore Environmental Achievement Awards here!
References: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency, The Straits Times, Swedish Chamber of Commerce Singapore, The Guardian, Science, Nielsen Corporation