As with any successful business conference or trade show, the organizers of the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore (CESG) later this month seek to bring together stakeholders from throughout targeted industry sectors.
Dalson Chung, the managing director of CESG, in an exclusive interview with Brian Taylor of Waste Today, says the power in such gatherings, in a recycling context, lies in part in their ability to “to come together to identify and accelerate the action needed to achieve a circular economy.”
Waste Today (WT): How can an event like CESG help support circular economy efforts in Singapore and the ASEAN region?
Dalson Chung (DC): A global platform like CESG is a great opportunity for thought leaders, senior government officials, regulators, policy makers and industry captains to explore and develop innovative solutions that will help build sustainable and climate-resilient cities.
These solutions would not have been possible for a single stakeholder to implement on their own, further highlighting the importance for the industry and stakeholders to come together to identify and accelerate the action needed to achieve a circular economy.
From governments of cities to technology providers to end user associations, CESG will facilitate the cross-sharing of knowledge amongst the brightest minds from the environment and sustainability industry.
CESG also places a heavy emphasis on spurring innovation as demonstrated by having an NEA Innovation Pavilion, dedicated to showcasing new technologies, innovations, products and services in the environmental sphere. One of these is SCARCE, an E-Waste Recycling Project by the Nanyang Technological University which can directly contribute to circular economy efforts in Singapore.
WT: What is your assessment of the current venture capital and financing climate in Singapore for entrepreneurs with a circular economy idea?
DC: The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is a dire warning for the world to take action against climate change, and Singapore is no different. However, the environment has to be conducive for action to take place. This includes having the right policies and regulations, and the right circumstances for capital to flow to the solutions that are available.
As companies focus on sustainability and the circular economy, Singapore is set to be a global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.
In the recent budget speech that was announced by the Singapore government, it was highlighted that green finance is one of the fasting growing segments, and will issue $35 billion of green bonds by 2030 to fund public sector green infrastructure projects.
To that end, we foresee many new and exciting solutions and technologies to be funded in Singapore. As such, we’ve ensured that innovation and technologies will play a central role at the upcoming CESG.
There will be an Innovation Showcase and Pitch at the NEA Innovation Pavilion at CESG. Innovative ideas around managing e-waste, wastewater surveillance for COVID-19, cleaning robotics, and other innovations related to environmental services will be featured at the pavilion for companies to invest in.
WT: What are some ways in which the government of Singapore is funding or supporting increased landfill diversion? Has this level of support been increasing in recent years?
DS: Managing waste effectively has always been an important issue for land-scarce Singapore. We have made much effort across the people, private and public sectors to move Singapore towards becoming a zero waste nation.
Last year, the Singapore Green Plan 2030 was launched to catalyze a nationwide sustainability movement, to move toward a greener future. This included targeting to reduce 20 percent of waste sent to the Semakau Landfill by 2026 as an interim target before reaching the final target of a 30 percent reduction by 2030.
This year, we announced the $80 million Closing the Resource Loop (CTRL) funding initiative to support research and development on sustainable resource recovery solutions for key waste streams and on finding useful and safe applications for treated waste residues. This is on top of the $25 million awarded for the waste-to-energy program and $45 million under Closing the Waste Loop funding initiative in earlier years. Through the CTRL we aim to increase resource recovery and achieve a sustainable, resource-efficient and climate-resilient Singapore.
A key upstream measure to encourage sustainable production is the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme. EPR requires producers, such as manufacturers and importers, to be responsible for the collection and proper treatment of their products at end of life.
Since July last year, we implemented an EPR scheme for e-waste, one of Singapore’s priority waste streams, which reduces our waste to landfill and ensures valuable resources from e-waste are recovered and used in manufacturing new products.
Efforts are also ongoing to develop and EPR for packaging waste, another one of Singapore’s priority waste streams. We will start with a return scheme for beverage containers and have been consulting the industry and public on the framework for the scheme.
We are also pursuing chemical recycling of plastics that converts plastic waste into pyrolysis oil, which can be used as feedstock for the manufacturing of chemicals and plastics.
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