Packaging Waste Will Fill Singapore’s Only Garbage Island by 2035

Singapore’s National Environment Agency has announced new rules to be put in place for packaging waste in Singapore in order to extend the lifespan of the country’s only remaining landfill site. By 2021, it will be mandatory for companies in Singapore to report packaging data, including how much waste they have generated, and to update their packaging waste reduction plans annually. The NEA will also launch a logo that approved vendors can use to help customers identify products with reduced packaging. These regulations are expected to lead to an increase in the use of sustainable packaging in Singapore, and to significantly change the way that products in the country are packaged.


At the rate that it is currently receiving waste, Semaku Landfill, Singapore’s offshore landfill, will be completely full by 2035. This is especially alarming considering that the landfill has the capacity to hold enough incinerated waste to fill more than 6,600 Olympic-size swimming pools. According to Singapore’s National Environment Agency, the total amount of packaging waste generated in the country last year was enough to fill more than 1,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The NEA also expects the amount of packaging waste disposed of to increase as Singapore’s population and economy grow, and people begin to consume more.


Semaku Landfill is essentially a garbage island, located roughly 8 kilometres south of Singapore. It was created by enclosing part of the sea with a 7 kilometer rock barrier. Phase 1 of the landfill involved the area being partitioned into eleven separate cells, which were then filled with incinerated or non-incinerated waste. Topsoil was then poured over the cells to enable the growth of plants and to support wildlife. Phase 2 was completed in 2015, providing an additional 16.7 million cubic metres of capacity for waste. However, it seems that this will not be enough unless these new regulations are followed.


Packaging waste alone accounts for roughly a third of all waste sent to the garbage island, which is why it is so critical for companies to change the ways their products are packaged and the materials that are used. The reduction of waste will also help to protect the landfill’s rich biodiversity and thriving ecosystem, features that are unique to Semaku Landfill.


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