Managing waste like Singapore
By 2025, the Municipal Solid Waste is expected to double from 1.3 billion tons of solid waste every year to 2.2 billion tons. Urbanization triggers the growing amount of solid waste. What Singapore can teach us? What are the solution and approach? Should the companies be privatized or solved under the governmental control?
The winner of all gold medals for the sustainable development gets a city of five million people constrained by space but armed with a strong economy and smart management. Singapore is reaching new and new heights. However, 15 years ago the city was at the risk of sinking in own waste. In 2000, the city was producing 7,600 tons of waste per day flooding onshore landfills. The solution had to be found quickly and efficiently. Statistics today look significantly different than a decade ago.
In July 2015, The National Environment Agency has announced getting to the final stage of Phase II development of offshore Semakau Landfill. Phase II will accommodate an additional space of 67000 Olympic-size swimming pools of the wasteland. With this Phase, the capacity of the landfill has to satisfy Singapore's waste disposal needs to 2035 and beyond. Not only the size makes the landfill outstanding, but the engineer achievements and innovative solutions. The Semakau Landfill has a 200-metre long floating platform and a floating wastewater treatment plant. Ash generated from the Singapore's incineration plants has been sent to this landfill since 1998. The ash is dumped on the top of floating platform and is spread to the level of the seabed. Next, bulldozers and compactors commence the ash.
Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is satisfied with the development of the Semakau Landfill: “The expansion of Semakau Landfill is testament to Singapore’s engineering capability and the success of its novel approach to waste management. Singapore’s only landfill represents a balancing feat between physical development and environmental conservation. While it is necessary to meet the waste disposal needs of Singapore, our priority has always been to ensure that it is done in an environmentally sustainable way.” The Semakau Landfill is ready to share its experience and is opened for educational and nature-based visits.
the last option
At the moment, there are four working waste-to-energy plants in Singapore. The fifth one, which will serve as a water-reclamation plant having all types of waste-handling under one roof, will start its duties in 2019. Unbelievable 3% of country's energy needs are provided by waste-to-energy plants, and recycling rates are constantly about 60% high. The megacities can learn from Singapore's sustainable measures. Eugene Tay, executive director of the Singapore-based nonprofit Zero Waste SG, says: “They need to step back and emphasize on the ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ part of the cycle, and then look at disposal as a final option.”
Non-governmental non-profit Zero Waste SG company aims to educate and promote tips and resources on waste minimisation. Company inspires to accelerate the shift towards zero waste and circular economy regular citizens. Zero Waste SG, just like Zero Waste Girl from the USA, shows the example how everyday life can be wasteless.
Indeed, waste handling is not the only one way to decrease the waste production. Applying to the citizens and businesses straight can have even bigger and stronger impact towards sustainable development. The 2015 Electrolux Food Waste At Home Survey reveals the amount of food waste households in Singapore produce:
The trend has been spread all over the globe, triggered by the Climate Change and needs for sustainable solutions. Denmark has thirteen organic household composting plants, 33 incinerators, 134 garden waste composting plants and five biogas facilities. Indias economic gains in recycling are as high as 9-15% of total waste generated. In Bangladesh, the composting capacity of 700 tonnes produces 50,000 tonnes. 35% of the Swedish municipalities send compostable household waste to a central treatment making a total of 344 500 tonnes of organic waste.
Waste disposal has to be considered as the last option. Singapore is a good example of how efforts for proper waste recycling and education of population can drastically change the situation turning the worst case scenario to the worldwide benchmark. Sustainable development depends on governmental policies and changing overconsumption approach of the population. There is an assumption that privatisation of the waste management tasks with good control mechanism will be a solution, and the hopes are high.