Singapore addresses marine litter as part of a holistic approach to tackling pollution and waste. This includes legislation and regulations on pollution control and waste management, as well as an integrated solid waste management and collection system to minimize waste at source. The applicable legislation and regulations, as of Oct 2019, include:
a. Environmental Protection and Management Act (EPMA)
b. Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA) and subsidiary legislation
c. Sewerage and Drainage Act
d. Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations
e. Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act (PPSA)
Singapore utilises a comprehensive waste and water management system to minimize waste at source and prevent the discharge of litter to the sea. Singapore’s approach is detailed below:
Comprehensive waste management system
- The control of discharge of trade effluent, oil, chemical, sewage or other polluting matters into drains, as well as hazardous substances into inland waters and conducting regular water quality monitoring of inland water bodies and coastal areas to meet international standards;
- Anti-littering as well as waterways clean-up measures, which ensure that land-based litter, including plastic waste, that might otherwise wash into the ocean is prevented from doing so;
- Integrated and comprehensive solid waste management and collection system to minimise waste at the source and collect all waste for proper disposal. Recyclables, which are segregated and collected separately at source, including plastics, are sorted, baled and sent for recycling.
Prevention of littering, illegal dumping, release of waste into the ocean
- Damming up of tidal rivers to form reservoirs as source of water supply has minimised litter from flowing out into the sea. Vertical gratings, litter traps and float booms have been installed where appropriate as part of the drainage network to trap debris and litter.
- All used water is collected and treated at water reclamation plants (WRPs) to international discharge standards. Most plastic materials, including microplastics, are removed through current treatment processes at the WRPs.
- Singapore is party to all six Annexes of the International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships. MARPOL Annex V in particular prohibits the discharge of garbage, including all types of plastics, into the sea.
- Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority’s port inspectors patrol Singapore’s port waters to ensure that ships in the Port of Singapore do not illegally discharge waste, oil, garbage and sewage.
- Singapore conducts inspections on both Singapore-registered and foreign-registered ships in our port to ensure that they comply with the regulations on garbage disposal into the sea and that anti-pollution measures are in place. Ships are also required to maintain garbage record and management plans for verification by inspectors.
- Singapore also provides daily garbage collection services at scheduled timings to collect garbage from ships at the anchorages.
Collaboration with stakeholders
Singapore’s initiatives to engage domestic stakeholders include:
- Partnering with the People, Private and Public (3P) sectors on initiatives that reduce the generation of land-based solid waste, including plastic waste.
- The Singapore Packaging Agreement, a voluntary agreement undertaken by government, industry and non-governmental organisations to reduce packaging waste.
- The National Recycling Programme, which provide convenient means for consumers to recycle, thereby reducing the amount of plastic waste being sent for disposal.
- The nationwide “Say YES to Waste Less” campaign which is aimed at influencing the public to reduce the use of disposables.
- Working with environment groups such as Zero Waste SG, the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) and the Waterways Watch Society (WWS) to foster shared ownership in keeping the environment clean and minimising waste. For example, ICCS organises clean-up initiatives to engender ownership among youths and other members of the public, and Zero Waste SG launched a Bring Your Own (BYO) campaign that provides educational tips and engage retails partners to provide incentives to encourage consumers to use their own reusable containers, bottles and bags leading to reduction in plastic waste.
- To encourage businesses to minimise their contribution to plastic waste, NEA will require businesses that place packaging on the Singapore market to submit packaging data and plans to reduce, reuse and/or recycle packaging under the mandatory packaging reporting framework to be implemented in 2020. This will include single-use plastic packaging. The mandatory packaging reporting will also lay the foundation for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) framework for managing packaging waste, including plastics, which will be implemented no later than 2025.
- Singapore has made a voluntary commitment to support implementation of SDG14. Specifically, under SDG14.1, Singapore committed to conducting a Regional Training Programme on Waste Management and Reduction of Marine Litter as part of the Singapore-Norway Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) in Oct 2017 and Mar 2019.
- Singapore provides capacity building assistance to other countries on the implementation of relevant international instruments for the prevention of pollution from ships, such as the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
- IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted the “Action Plan to address marine plastic litter from ships” at its 73rd Session (22-26 October 2018), which aims to enhance existing regulations and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships. Following which, MEPC 74 (13-17 May 2019) developed and approved the Terms of Reference for an IMO Study on marine plastic litter from ships. MEPC 74 also approved the establishment of a Correspondence Group on Development of a Strategy to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships, which is currently being led by Singapore.
- Singapore, alongside other ASEAN member states, has adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris and the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris to protect the marine environment and strengthen regional cooperation on marine debris issues.
- Singapore actively participates in regional marine litter initiatives and workshops organized by the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) and Partnerships in Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA).
Capacity development and use of scientific knowledge and technology
- Singapore’s planned extension of additional membrane bioreactor technology systems at its water reclamation plans will further reduce the amount of microplastics discharged into the sea.
- Singapore is currently undertaking marine debris research to establish a baseline for marine debris on Singapore’s shores, and set the stage for an integrated, citizen-science programme to collect and share information for use by stakeholders and the public.
Singapore has a comprehensive and integrated solid waste and wastewater management covering proper collection and disposal. This comprehensive system minimizes waste washed into the marine environment and seeks to tackle the issue of marine debris pollution holistically, from the upstream. For example, our waste and wastewater management system controls the discharge of all effluents and waste into water bodies. An integrated solid waste management system to minimise waste at the source, reuse and recycle and regulate waste collectionand disposal so that waste will not be washed into the ocean. We also have strict anti-littering and illegal dumping laws, wastewater treatment regulations, and regulations to implement our MARPOL obligations.
Note: Relevant indicators, data or other numerical information can be included at the discretion of each country, for example: (1) the amount of waste generated, reused, collected, recycled, and properly disposed of; (2) the amount of marine litter cleaned up; (3) the scale of use of innovative technologies and materials including R&D investment; (4) the scale and/or effect of assistance for countries that need technical capacity development including the increased amount of waste properly disposed of. (encouraged to indicate the proportion/elements of plastics and/or microplastics, if available)
- Comprehensive waste management system:
Having a comprehensive and integrated solid waste management and collection system helps to minimise waste at the source, reuse and recycle waste, and regulate waste collection and disposal so that waste will not be washed into the marine environment.
- Prevention of littering, illegal dumping, release of waste into the ocean:
Singapore has a routine cleaning regime put in place for all inland waterways to trap and remove land-based litter and flotsam. Damming up of tidal rivers to form reservoirs as source of water supply has also minimised litter from flowing out into the sea. Singapore also has a strict anti-littering enforcement regime aimed at deterring littering.
- Cooperation with stakeholders:
Singapore works with consumers, food and beverage establishments, supermarkets, and hotels to reduce the use of disposables and encourages residents to recycle through the National Recycling Programme.
- The Sustainable Singapore Blueprint and the Zero Waste Masterplan, which will guide Singapore’s efforts towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation.
Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan: https://towardszerowaste.sg/zero-waste-masterplan/