SINGAPORE: Singapore prides itself as a garden city, but the authorities have revealed that the littering problem has not only persisted but has intensified over the past year. The National Environment Agency (NEA) reported yesterday (Oct 9) that it issued more than 6,000 additional fines year-on-year for littering offences.

The number of fines for littering surged from approximately 14,000 in 2021 to a staggering 20,100 in the past year, representing a substantial increase of over 43.5 per cent. This substantial rise in littering incidents has raised concerns among Singaporeans and has led to speculation regarding its root causes.

Singaporeans interviewed by Channel 8 News expressed their observations regarding the increased littering problem. One common sentiment among interviewees is the perceived lack of available trash cans in public places.

Some reported instances where they couldn’t find a trash can nearby, leading them to carry their trash until they found an appropriate disposal bin. A student recounted seeing litter outside an MRT station, suggesting that the absence of trash cans might lead people to resort to improper disposal methods.

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Another issue raised is the trash chute system in individual HDB flats. Residents mentioned difficulties in using these chutes, including squatting down and occasional encounters with cockroaches. Consequently, some residents take their garbage downstairs, which can quickly fill up public trash bins.

Questions have also arisen regarding whether the number of trash cans has kept pace with Singapore’s rising population, contributing to the littering issue.

To address this growing problem, respondents suggested a multi-faceted approach. While fines can serve as a deterrent, they acknowledged the limitations of law enforcement. Instead, education is strongly emphasised, especially starting at a young age. Some respondents cited Japan as an example, where environmental awareness and waste sorting are instilled in children from an early age.

One Singaporean said, “Children should be taught from an early age to clean up after eating and develop good habits. When they grow up, they will not litter.”

Moreover, increasing the number of trash cans in public places was suggested as a practical measure to make proper disposal more convenient for residents.