Extended Producer Responsibility in Singapore
As Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law develops in Singapore, Valpak’s International Team examines its implementation and some of the challenges the legislation will bring.
Singapore’s Resource Sustainability Act introduces Southeast Asia’s first Extended Producer Responsibility law and represents an important step toward Singapore becoming a ‘Zero Waste’ nation.
Why is it important?
Singapore is renowned for its cleanliness and interest in sustainability, but despite aims to be a “Zero Waste Nation” and high investment in waste management, their recycling rates are low. A zero-waste nation is achieved by reducing the consumption of materials and reusing and recycling to achieve an overall “zero” waste output.
Singapore incinerates most of its waste through “waste-to-energy” initiatives, where waste is burnt, and the heat generated creates steam, producing electricity or “green energy”. However, there are issues with these initiatives, some of which are as follows:
- There is no incentive to reduce waste and there are low recycling rates and high waste outputs. This limits the effectiveness of regulations such as the ban on plastic bags.
- Only 3% of Singapore’s electricity is generated
- They increase demand for virgin materials and limit upcycling innovation
- Emissions from the incineration are damaging (although NEA claims that Singapore’s tech is environmentally and health-friendly).
Most of Singapore’s recycling is exported for processing, although increasing numbers of closed borders to imported waste means that increasing amounts of recyclable rubbish is incinerated. There is also limited public awareness of recycling, leaving lots of contaminated waste needing to be incinerated.
Singapore’s only landfill is also projected to reach capacity by 2035, or even earlier.
EPR Framework in Singapore: steps towards a zero-waste Nation
The Resource Sustainability Act (RSA) 2019 introduces Southeast Asia’s first Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law. This holds producers accountable for the responsible disposal of their products once they become waste. The regulation includes:
- Mandatory reporting for companies that produce/use packaging
- Mandatory 3R plans, including details of the key initiatives, key performance indicators, and targets, which companies will need to report on the progress of in subsequent reports
Investment in upcycling innovations will be equally crucial to tackling Singapore’s waste management.
EPR will help move Singapore to a zero-waste nation, as companies will be more aware of the potential opportunities for packaging waste reduction within their business operations. Companies will also be motivated to take action to reduce the amount of packaging used, thereby minimising waste at source. In developing 3R plans, companies can consider initiatives facilitating the recycling of waste.
Challenges with implementation
Successful implementation will rely on cooperation from all stakeholders, as well as reviews and updates over time. Improving public awareness will play a big part in helping Singapore achieve its “zero-waste nation” ambition. Co-operation may be encouraged through the penalties for those who do not comply, which, according to the EPR RSA 2019 Act, are a financial penalty of an amount not exceeding $10,000 for each failure to comply, but not exceeding $50,000 in total.
Valpak International Compliance Service
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