SINGAPORE: Rubbish from large shopping malls made up 7 per cent of the total waste discarded in Singapore last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a media release on Friday (Oct 13).
Last year, 225,000 tonnes of waste was disposed of by 172 shopping centres. This was out of a total of 245,000 tonnes of waste generated overall at these malls, meaning most of the waste was not recycled.
NEA said that although much of the waste could have been recycled and did not have to be incinerated, the average recycling rate for the sector remained low at 8 per cent in 2016.
"There is therefore much potential for waste minimisation and recycling in shopping malls," NEA said. "This will help prolong the lifespan of Semakau landfill, which will be filled by 2035 if we persist with our current waste disposal habits."
The 172 shopping centre included in the figures were large malls with more than 50,000 sq ft of net lettable area.
Announcing the launch of its 3R Awards for shopping malls, NEA said that the first waste reduction and recycling awards for mall operators in Singapore provide "a platform" for consumers to identify malls that have made a "concerted effort" to do their part for the environment.
This year's winners include 313@Somerset, IKEA Alexandra, Jem, Parkway Parade and The Shoppes at Marina Bay. Collectively all five malls reduced and recycled more than 3,037 tonnes of waste in 2016, saving S$230,000 in waste disposal costs, said NEA.
Waste minimisation efforts by the malls include the collection of used cooking oil to be recycled for biofuel by 313@somerset, and IKEA Alexandra's switch to reusable bags instead of disposable bags.
Beauty product retailer Kiehl's also won an award for its efforts to encourage customers to reuse and recycle products.
HALF OF SINGAPORE FOOD WASTE GENERATED BY COMMERCIAL SOURCES
In addition, about half of the food waste in Singapore is generated by non-domestic sources including supermarkets, food retail outlets and food manufacturers, NEA said.
To help supermarket operators reduce food waste disposal, NEA also announced the publication of a new guidebook.
The Food Waste Minimisation Guidebook for Supermarkets was unveiled by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources at the 3R Awards ceremony.
Jointly developed by NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, it aims to help supermarket operators reduce food waste disposal and includes best practice case studies such as selling fruit and vegetables with blemishes at a discount and marking down the prices of chilled meat and seafood that have been on display for a day.