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27 September 2019

On 4 September 2019, the Resource Sustainability Bill (“Bill”) was passed in Parliament. The Bill is part of the Singapore Government’s zero waste initiatives. As noted by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Amy Khor (“SMS Khor”), efficient waste disposal is necessary but the overarching goal is to reduce, reuse and recycle, i.e. achieving zero waste. This is the core objective of the Bill.

The Bill will, for the first time, put in place a systems-level approach that mandates key responsibilities to enable reuse and recycling nationwide. SMS Khor noted, in her speech before Parliament, the Bill will encourage manufacturers and importers to take into account the cost of environmental externalities and also encourage innovation and the redesigning of products to require less materials, last longer and be more easily recycled.

The Bill designates the National Environment Agency (“NEA”) as the agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Bill.

Key features of the Bill

The Bill establishes the Extended Producer Responsibility (“EPR”) framework for e-waste. Producers, as defined in the Bill, will be required to register with the NEA in order to supply regulated products. Larger producers above a certain threshold will be required to join a Producer Responsibility Scheme (“PRS”) before they can supply regulated consumer products.

Matters provided under the Bill include the following:

  • Require producers of certain electrical and electronic products to join a producer responsibility scheme, through which the producers finance the collection and recycling of such products when they are disposed of as waste;
  • Require large retailers to offer in-store collection of electrical and electronic waste and, upon delivery of an electrical or electronic product, offer
    one-for-one collection of an equivalent product;
  • Require producers who supply regulated goods to report on the amount of specified packaging imported or used in relation to the regulated goods
  • Require producers who supply regulated goods to submit plans to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging
  • Require occupiers of certain buildings to dispose of food waste separately from other types of waste;
  • Require building managers of certain buildings to provide on-site food waste segregation and food waste treatment facilities; and
  • Regulate persons who operate producer responsibility schemes.

The Bill establishes the mandatory reporting framework for packaging, including plastics. Producers of specified packaging that fulfil the threshold criteria will be required to report on the packaging they introduce into the Singapore market. They will also be required to submit plans to NEA to reduce, reuse or recycle packaging. The threshold criteria will, for a start, be set at an annual turnover of above S$10 million.

In relation to the PRS, SMS Khor notes that the operators of this scheme are fundamental in any EPR framework as they establish the network for public collection of the regulated waste, and ensure the waste collected is properly treated and recycled. Operators of the PRS will require a licence, the conditions for which will be determined by the NEA.

Authorised officers are empowered to request for information and documents from any person and enter any non-residential premises to investigate or monitor compliance with the provisions of the Bill. There are penalties provided in the Bill for anyone who hinders an authorised officer in the performance of his duty.

As a large part of the regulations set out in the Bill is dependent on information, the Bill makes the provision of any false or misleading information an offence. The penalties are in line with other similar legislation, such as the Energy Conservation Act and the Environmental Public Health Act.

Reference materials

The following materials are available from the Singapore Parliament website www.parliament.gov.sg and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources website www.mewr.gov.sg:

 

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