SINGAPORE – Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) governing board chairman, Albert Lim has said that the current landfill for packaging waste will be full by 2035 given a limited land space.

According to him, a taskforce which recommended voluntary agreement towards waste management was set up in January 2007 with a goal to look into the problem of packaging waste in Singapore.

“Waste in the country has increased seven-fold over the past 40 years, and with this amount of disposable waste we needed to create a waste-to-energy plan, which is sustainable over the next seven to 10 years,” he said.

“Waste has increased from 1,200 tons of waste a day in 1970 to 8,559 tonnes a day in 2016, which means our current landfill will be full by 2035 and we have no more land space.”

SPA’s mission revolves around reducing packaging waste, raising community awareness, introduce supply chain initiatives and enhance development of cost-effective technologies to reduce packaging waste.

The signatories have a role to review packaging design practices to reduce material usage, and implement programs of reuse or recycle and educate industry partners and customers on recycling.

FoodNavigator Asia reports that following the roll out of its second SPA running from 2012 to 2020, the initiative received 205 signatories, managing about 39,000 tons of packaging waste resulting in US$93m savings.

Global initiative

Members of the governing board include Coca-Cola, Tetra Pak, Starbucks and Subway.

Nestle Singapore is highlighted as a strong contributor to the global course, having improved its production processes and packaging, resulting in a reduction of close to 3,000 tons of packaging waste.

It reduced the thickness of its 1.5kg tin can from 0.25mm to 0.22mm by changing its design from a 6- bead to 9-bead tin in 2007 and in 2009 extended the changes to its 1.25kg and 1.65kg MILO tin cans.

To recognize the efforts of firms like Tetra Pak, who have improved its packaging process and processes resulting in a reduction of 15,000 tons of waste, SPA unveiled a voluntary eco-label called LPRP (Logo for Products with Reduced Packaging) for manufacturers.

According to data from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore produced 763,400 tonnes of plastics and only 6% of plastic waste generated was recycled.

While NEA data by Reuters shows that plastic waste per capita has increased nearly 20% over the last 15 years, the government is yet to adopt any bans or charges on plastic bags or single-use plastic items like straws and plates.