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Small deposit fee may be applied to beverage containers under recycling scheme proposed by NEA

The new scheme is aimed at increasing the recycling rate of beverage containers in Singapore.

Sherlyn Sim

Considers knowing how to use a rice cooker an achievement.

Published: 20 September 2022, 8:04 PM

A new scheme aimed at increasing the rate of recycling beverage containers has been proposed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). 

In a press release on Tuesday (Sep 20), NEA said it is inviting the public to share their views and suggestions on the scheme. 

Under the scheme, a small deposit of $0.10 or $0.20 will be applied to certain beverage containers when consumers buy a pre-packaged drink. The deposit will be returned when consumers return their empty drink container to a designated return point, such as in supermarkets, convenience stores or common spaces in residential estates. 

NEA said that this will “encourage” consumers to return their empty containers. 

“The scheme is a key initiative to address packaging waste, specifically beverage containers such as plastic bottles and metal cans,” added NEA. 

“The scheme will contribute to our zero waste efforts by cultivating recycling habits and aggregating clean and high-quality recyclables to enable a circular economy with resources recovered to be used for as long as possible.” 

NEA added that the scheme will help reduce the amount of waste incinerated and landfilled, which will reduce carbon emissions and also extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill beyond 2035. 

The scheme, which is proposed to be implemented by mid-2024, will be the first phase of the Extended Producer Responsibility approach to manage package waste. 

It was first brought up by the Citizens’ Workgroup on #RecycleRight in 2019 and subsequently announced at the 2020 Committee of Supply debates. 

Since then, dialogues, focus groups discussions and surveys have been conducted by NEA, which found that only 59 per cent of households surveyed recycled their used drink containers. 

Of the households that did not practise recycling the containers, 40 per cent cited habit as a reason, while 43 per cent cited convenience. 

Similar schemes have been implemented in about 50 jurisdictions including Sweden, Germany and Australian states such as New South Wales, where Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor visited New South Wales to observe their version of the scheme in April this year. 

Reflecting on the trip, SMS Khor said: “The beverage container return scheme is a crucial step in our journey to become a Zero Waste Nation. It will spur more people to recycle their beverage  containers… Learning from other jurisdictions that have implemented such schemes will help us to design one that is cost effective, convenient and suitable for our local context.” 

NEA’s public consultation is done “in the spirit of the Forward Singapore exercise”, the agency shared. Members of the public can provide their feedback and suggestions on the scheme online.  

The closing date for the submissions is Oct 14, 11.59pm.

For more content about Forward SG and how youths can participate, click here.

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