SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE RESOURCE SUSTAINABILITY BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Mr Speaker Sir
We need to take a strong stance on global warming. We cannot afford to leave it to future generations to worry about. I’m glad to hear that we are both planning for climate change and rising sea levels; and doing our best to use resources sustainably. PM has announced that we want to cut waste sent to landfill by 30%. This is a worthwhile goal but a very big one. We will all need to pull together to achieve it.
I often hear Singaporeans say, but we are such a small country, how can we make a difference? Indeed, our carbon footprint is comparatively low compared to other larger countries. Our global emissions amounts to about 0.1%.
But actions from every individual add up. If everybody thinks tackling climate change is someone else’s responsibility, then who will take responsibility?
This Resource Sustainability Bill, which aims to improve waste management in Singapore, and support businesses to reduce and recycle their waste, is a step in the right direction.
Packaging and e-waste
The Bill does well to hold key producers of various types of waste accountable for waste management and reduction. I would like to ask, when businesses report how they will cut down on excessive packaging, do they have to meet a certain target? What will be the targets set? How will they be monitored? If companies don’t meet the targets, what penalties will be imposed? We need ambitious targets to ensure that companies take this seriously but at the same time, it should not too onerous.
Companies should not be unduly over-pressurised by this requirement. Afterall doing business nowadays is not easy.
At the same time, government also needs to simplify reporting as much as possible and train companies accordingly. Will the new requirements raise the prices of goods?
Some eateries, hawker centres and fast food restaurants for example, provide single-use plastic spoons and forks for customers having their meals on-site. Are these single-use items regulated as packaging? If not, they could become a loophole in the law.
Next, if Minister can explain more on electrical and electronic waste. Given the expected increase in volume of e-waste, can our current e-waste recycling capability cope? What are the plans to grow this capability?
It concerns me that building managers will have difficulties implementing segregation and treating of food waste on-site, especially if occupiers of the prescribed buildings do not cooperate. This would be just like our HDB recycling bins, where just one uncooperative person can contaminate the whole bin.
Can the Minister elaborate, how massive is this exercise? How many buildings would fall within this category? How many NEA operated hawker centres have such facilities at the moment? How would food prices at hawker centres, coffeeshops, schools etc be affected?
Are there local commercial buildings that have already adopted the practice of segregating and/or treating food waste on-site? What are the results and benefits?
The law is mainly focused on businesses. But individual actions will make a difference too.
What I hope to see is this message trickling down to individuals. Nothing is too small or too little to save the earth for our next generation. We need to stop consuming more than we need and make reusables the norm in society.
I’ve mentioned recycling bins. Can we please do more to get all residents to use recycling bins appropriately? Are there plans to improve the heartland recycling network?
Also, many use the karang guni man to dispose of our unwanted items. How will this new Bill impact on their trade?
Another facet of our life is the PMDs. How are people to dispose of their PMDs? With the new fire safety standards, at least 80,000 PMDs will be disposed of in the coming year. Can Minister give some guidance in these areas? Can NEA ask PMD sellers to take back these PMDs and recycle them properly?
Domestic helpers and foreign workers play a big role at home and at work when it comes to waste management. What is the Ministry doing to reach out to these groups?
Sir, I support this Bill, and I trust that the Minister will continue to push on with more efforts to promote sustainability. Thank you.
Sir, in Chinese please. 保护地球，人人有责。这项法案规定大公司必须告诉当局他们使用多少一次性包装，以及将如何减少包装。我们的确需要严格对待，但同时，也要小心新条例带来物价上涨。
Watch the speech here
Watch the response by MEWR here