Reducing Our Use of Disposables

Reducing Our Use of Disposables

What are disposables?
Disposables are items designed for single use before they are thrown away. 
We can think of disposables in two broad groups:

They are usually made of plastic, paper, biodegradable materials, or a combination of these.

What’s the issue with using disposables? 
Disposables can be useful – for instance, medical items such as syringes, bandages, and masks. However, in many cases, disposables are not essential because there are reusable options that could be used and reused many times! 

Do we create a lot of waste from using disposables? 
In 2020, about 200,000 tonnes of domestic waste disposed of in Singapore were disposables. This comprised both packaging and non-packaging items such as carrier bags, food and beverage containers, and tableware and utensils.  

At the rate that we currently create waste, our only landfill, Semakau Landfill, will be fully filled by 2035! Reducing our use of disposables will contribute toward our various efforts to reduce waste generation, in order to achieve our target of reducing the amount of waste to landfill by 20% by 2026 and 30% by 2030.


Will reducing our use of disposables help mitigate climate change? 
Yes, it will. It also helps to conserve Earth’s precious resources. 

Resources such as oil, plants, water, and energy are used to produce disposables, transport them to users, and process them at waste treatment facilities. Greenhouse gases are also emitted during the process of production, transportation, and disposal of disposables, especially if fossil fuels are burnt. 

Why don’t we ban single-use plastics, since they contribute to marine litter?
The issue of marine litter has increased international attention on single-use plastics. Globally, land-based trash is the largest source of marine litter. Littering and lack of effective waste management systems are key reasons why such land-based waste, including plastics, end up in the ocean.

Singapore has several measures to prevent waste from land-based sources from ending up in our environment. Our measures include:

-- Integrated solid waste management system that ensures all waste is collected for disposal or recycling.
-- Proper treatment of waste that is not recycled, at our waste-to-energy incineration plants and disposal at Semakau Landfill.
-- Strict anti-littering regulations.
-- Waterway and coastal clean-up measures.
-- Controlling the discharge of pollutants into inland waters.

More information can be found in the National Action Strategy on Marine Litter.

Banning single-use plastics may also lead to a switch to disposables made from other materials such as paper or degradable plastics, which also create waste, have their own set of environmental impacts and are not necessarily better for the environment.

In view of the above, instead of advocating a switch to degradable materials, Singapore’s approach is to reduce the use of disposables regardless of material type, and promote the use of reusables.

What have we done to reduce our use of disposables? 

There are wide-ranging efforts to reduce the use of disposables, from regulations to national campaigns and voluntary initiatives.


What can I do to reduce my use of disposables? 
There are various actions that you can take to reduce your use of disposables.

Bags: Bring reusable bags when shopping. Reuse packaging bags for waste disposal.

Food and beverage containers/utensils: Bring reusable containers, cups and utensils when buying takeaway food or drinks. Avoid using disposable straws.

Packaging in general: Bring your own containers to stores that allow buying loose quantities. Buy larger size toiletries and household items to reduce packaging waste.


Source: NEA

Previous article How to Choose the Perfect Trash Bin for Your Office
Next article How to Keep Your Stainless Steel Trash Bin Sparkling Clean