About 30% of Singapore’s recyclable waste exported overseas in 2018: Masagos

About 30% of Singapore’s recyclable waste exported overseas in 2018: Masagos

Recycling bin file photo
Recycling bins at a housing estate in Singapore. (File photo: Chew Hui Min)

SINGAPORE: About 30 per cent of Singapore’s recyclable waste was exported to other countries last year, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday (Aug 6).

The bulk of recyclables are processed locally, he said in a written parliamentary reply.

Mr Masagos was responding to Non-constituency Member of Parliament Daniel Goh, who asked how much of Singapore's recyclable waste is exported to overseas processors, and which countries were the largest receivers of such waste from Singapore.

READ: Commentary: When did Southeast Asia become a dumping ground for waste?

“Singapore recycles, on average, around 60 per cent of our total waste generated,” said Mr Masagos. 

“In 2018, about 30 per cent of recyclable material, such as paper, plastics, glass and metal, was exported to countries including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand for processing and recycling.”

READ: Could more be done to reduce plastic packaging waste in Singapore's supermarkets?

China's announcement in 2017 that it no longer wanted to import "foreign garbage" has created challenges for the global recycling industry. China used to be the world's top destination for recyclable trash. 

Industry players in Singapore had said that running a recycling operation here is not financially viable, and that some recyclables now end up being incinerated instead of being sold to China. 

READ: ‘Cannot sell ... so they burn’: What’s next in the uncertain future for plastic waste in Singapore?

Mr Masagos on Tuesday noted that there is a need for Singapore to continue building its recycling capabilities.

“This will allow us to better extract resources from waste and close the waste loop through adopting a circular economy approach," he said. 

"NEA is currently studying e-waste and plastics recycling solutions and technologies available in the market, and assessing their suitability for adoption in Singapore in terms of both environmental and economic sustainability."

READ: 60% of large electrical appliances must be collected for e-waste recycling

Source: CNA/aa(gs)