The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the Say YES to Waste Less nation-wide campaign together with 59 partners last June 08. The partners comprise major food and beverage (F&B) establishments, malls/retail chains, e-tailers, supermarkets, hotels, educational institutions, organisations such as Community Development Councils, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Covering more than 1,600 premises and reaching out to millions of consumers, the partners’ efforts are aimed at influencing the public to reduce the use of disposables. The announcements were made by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Amy Khor, at the launch event at IKEA Tampines.

Environmental impact of disposables

In 2018, about 164,500 tonnes of domestic waste disposed of were disposables, comprising items such as plastic bags and takeaway containers, or enough disposables to fill up about 300 Olympic-size swimming pools. All types of disposables, regardless of whether they are made of paper, plastics or degradable materials, require resources for production and transportation. At the current rate of waste disposal, we will need one landfill every 30 to 35 years for our disposal needs. As Singapore is short of land, there is a need to encourage the adoption of a more sustainable lifestyle and the avoidance of excessive consumption. The support of the public, businesses, and NGOs is key to successfully reducing the use of disposables.

Say YES to Waste Less Campaign

In line with 2019 being designated as the Year Towards Zero Waste, the Say YES to Waste Less campaign is aimed at driving awareness of the impact of excessive consumption of disposables and the need avoid their use where possible. With the main campaign message, ‘Make the Right Choice. Choose Reusables’, consumers are encouraged to take simple, actionable steps to reduce their impact on the environment by choosing reusables instead of disposables. Simple actions include bringing a reusable bag, bottle, and/or container along whenever heading out, and these reusables can then be used anytime and anywhere, thus reducing or avoiding the use of disposables wherever possible.

The partners’ commitments cover a range of actions, such as displaying the Say YES to Waste Less campaign visuals at their cashier points to serve as visual reminders, or having their cashiers prompt customers to consider using reusable bags. Both actions are forms of behavioural cues that encourage consumers to reduce the use of disposables. Some partners’ efforts include encouraging customers to opt out of receiving disposable cutlery with their online orders, not offering water in disposable bottles at meeting rooms and communal areas, providing incentives to customers who bring their reusables and actively encouraging their employees to reduce their use of disposables. Schools and youth groups are also carrying out activities to engage their peers or their local community.

Following the launch, there will be four district events, which will take place from July to August 2019, and 100 roadshows organised in collaboration with local communities and schools to amplify the campaign’s reach, create awareness and encourage action.

Chief Executive Officer of NEA, Mr. Tan Meng Dui, said, “To reduce waste, one of the first and relatively easy steps we can all take is to reduce, or even stop, the use of disposables. Whether it is a shopping bag, container or bottle, it is not so much the type of materials that matter, but whether it is a disposable or reusable. As consumers, we all have a choice. This campaign urges everyone to choose reusables over disposables. To this end, we are heartened to have the strong support of 59 partners, spanning across more than 1,600 premises, who have stepped forward to work with us towards the common goal of reducing the use of disposables. Such initiatives, along with other 3R efforts, will contribute to more sustainable consumption, and go a long way to help conserve resources and extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill.”

See full list of partner establishments here.

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