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50 Singaporeans from different backgrounds to form citizens’ workgroup to help gov’t tackle environmental issues

Being part of the workgroup will allow individuals to trade ideas and recommendations with each other and the government, approaching problems as a team

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On Wednesday, July 17, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor announced that the government is calling on its citizens for help to tackle environmental issues arising from climate change. A citizens’ workgroup comprised of 50 Singaporeans from diversified backgrounds will be formed to find solutions to everyday recycling problems.

Minister Khor made the announcement on the citizens’ workgroup during the Partners for the Environment Forum, which took place yesterday.

Climate change and environmental protection are “complex and multifaceted problems that cannot be addressed by the Government alone”, said Minister Khor, who also noted that citizens and businesses need to pitch in to help find relevant solutions.

While the the conversation on the environmental impact of climate change has been ongoing, Minister Khor said that the government wants to move past merely talking about it and turn discussion into action.

This will require cooperation on every individual’s part. While the public has already been educated on the Zero Waste Masterplan, which will be initiated in the latter part of this year and will focus on recycling three trash streams — food waste, packing waste and e-waste, citizens can get involved in an even more direct manner.

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For this to happen, the people and the government need to work hand-in-hand to brainstorm co-effective solutions to hammer in the three R’s — Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.

“If we can improve the way we recycle, we can collect back items which might otherwise have been trashed. The recyclables can be made into new products such as construction materials and furniture. Recycling will therefore enable us to turn trash into treasure. This will allow us to keep our precious and finite resources in use for as long as possible, instead of drawing on new resources.” — from the Towards Zero Waste website.

They are calling it the “circular economy approach”.

The citizens’ workgroup will be the perfect platform through which people can push ideas and everyday solutions that will streamline and improve the current recycling process.

Being part of the workgroup will allow individuals to trade ideas and recommendations with each other and the government, approaching problems as a team. Participants of the workgroup will also get the opportunity to meet and consult with subject matter experts in the waste management and recycling industry and to get educated on policy-relevant information coming from household recycling surveys and the like.

The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) will take proposals from the citizens’ workgroup seriously and turn recommendations into initiatives.

If you want to learn more about the initiative, check out the FAQs on the citizens’ workgroup.

During the Partners for Environment Forum, Minister Khor also awarded the Singapore Packaging Agreement Awards to 19 companies whose efforts to cut down packaging waste have been effective.

Six Senses Singapore, Greenpac and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) garnered the top three awards for their notable efforts.

From October 2018, hotel chain Six Senses Singapore stopped using single-use egg paper trays and styrofoam boxes for seafood and replaced them with reusable plastic containers and trays. They educated their staff and engaged suppliers to take part in their zero-waste goals.

Since February of this year, RWS no longer provides plastic bottles at its hotels, dining establishments and themed attractions. Instead, it has been providing refillable carafes in every hotel room and water stations on hotel floors and will continue to explore eco-friendly options and solutions to environmental problems.

Greenpac has reduced packaging waste and freight costs by cutting down the weight of each package (through reduction of packaging size, while maintaining quality) from 144kg to 113kg for one of its clients.

Each of these companies has pledged its commitment, determination and resources toward reducing packaging waste and adopting more environmentally-friendly solutions.

Minister Khor reminded businesses that they can use their networks and influence to “lead the way in adopting circular economy practices” and promote sustainable production and consumption.

Climate change is a shared problem — and we can each do our part to contribute to solving it. But first we need to take personal accountability. /TISG

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