Circular Economy Design A Solution For Singapore's Waste Management Problems

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In February this year, Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) announced that Semakau Landfill with running out of the room by 2035 – 10 years earlier than expected. With barges of ash sent to Semakau Landfill each day and no plans to replace the landfill, there are questions surrounding the future of waste management in Singapore.

In collaboration with the National Environment Agency (NEA) the MEWR has announced it will release its Zero Waste Masterplan for Singapore in the second half of this year (2019). The Masterplan targets a waste reduction in three streams: e-waste, food waste, and packaging waste. All sectors and industries are being encouraged to contribute innovative plans and solutions to Singapore’s waste management crisis.

We believe our innovative plant-based packaging that’s designed for a circular economy where there is no waste is the solution to Singapore’s waste management woes.

Composting to reduce food waste

According to a report by Access Cities, food waste is one of the biggest contributors to landfill in Singapore. Last year, 763 million kilograms of food waste was generated yet only 17 per cent was recycled organically.

This is a missed opportunity for a nation that relies heavily on imported goods. Rather than send food waste to landfill it should be repurposed to create compost which can be used to fertilise Singapore’s farms and improve soil quality.

Organic recycling, also known as composting, offers a closed-loop solution for food waste generated by households and foodservice providers – like hotels, cafes, and tourist attractions – alike. Industrial composting infrastructure can process large volumes of organic waste, including food scraps and compostable packaging, meaning these materials are reused and repurposed rather than being sent to landfill.

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Moving towards zero waste

The Access Cities report shows that 40% of waste Singaporeans place in the recycling stream goes to landfill. And a third of waste created and disposed of in Singapore comes from packaging.

The Masterplan encourages consumers to advocate for change by demanding that their favourite brands adopt sustainable and circular packaging solutions. In addition to this, there are plans to introduce a mandatory reporting framework which will require producers of packaging to report their plans to reduce, reuse and recycle the packaging they produce.

With its national compost collection service functioning in both Australia and New Zealand, BioPak already has a proven closed-loop solution in place for its packaging. Businesses that use BioPak compostable packaging can sign-up for the BioPak Compost Service and divert food waste and compostable packaging from landfill to industrial composting facilities where it will be turned into the soil instead.

Packaging designed for a circular economy

The circular economy model is based on the living world’s cyclical model – where there is no landfill, but materials flow. In a living system, one species’ waste is another’s fuel. Living things grow, die, and their nutrients are returned to the soil safely. The circular economy is an industry model that is restorative and regenerative by design, where waste can build capital rather than reduce it.

BioPak applies the three key principles of the circular economy model to its business: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

“We accept responsibility for all stages in the lifecycle of our products,” says Gary Smith, Managing Director of BioPak. “We’re not about being ‘less bad’. Instead, we’re creating products that reflect a ‘cradle to cradle’ lifecycle rather than a ‘cradle to grave’ lifecycle.”

Plant-based compostable packaging is the first step towards zero waste with the next step being the introduction of industrial composting to close the loop and address the broader issue of food waste ending up in the landfill.

Our innovative packaging solutions are designed for a circular economy where there is no waste. It starts with responsibly sourced materials, continues with environmentally certified manufacturing processes, and ends with disposal options that see resources recycled, reused or regenerated.

BioPak is currently in conversations with a number of partners regarding this infrastructure.