Singapore is a member country of COBSEA and a knowledge partner country for SEA circular. SEA circular is working closely with the National University of Singapore to develop research efforts and science in the region, such as the research on pollution from marine plastics in South-East Asia and East Asia (ASEAN+3).

Causes and challenges

Singapore is waging a battle against the increasing consumption of plastics – plastic bags, disposables, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle use. The island state is estimated to use about 1.76 billion plastic items each year, according to the Singapore Environment Council’s position paper published in 2018. This includes 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets, 467 million PET bottles and 473 million plastic disposable items like takeaway containers. This waste generation is exacerbated by the low recycling rates, at 6% in 2017 (Dept. of Statistics, Singapore 2017), reinforced by the general lack of awareness about recycling about by the public.

The environmental impacts of plastic waste are increasing – alongside detrimental effects on the economy. In 2019, the country’s Resource Sustainability Bill was passed to provide regulatory teeth for the government to implement measures to reduce waste from three key streams: electronic waste, food waste and packaging waste.

Singapore’s domestic recycling rate is low.  In comparison, the industrial sector recycled 74 per cent of its waste last year. Among the reasons for the poor domestic recycling rate is the contamination of recyclables, which occurs when food or other waste is thrown into recycling bins, and segregation is inefficient.

Increasing plastic waste is generated due to levels of consumption and a culture of convenience – deliveries and take-out meals are commonplace. This is combined with relatively low awareness about recycling. 

Ways forward

Singapore is at the forefront in implementing various initiatives to manage the domestic waste generated, from building waste-to-energy plants to investing heavily in waste management infrastructure. Singapore is exploring the establishment of local e-waste recycling facilities, and is also financing research into plastic recycling solutions and technologies, and their suitability for Singapore. 

In 2019, Singapore passed the Resource Sustainability Bill, part of the government’s zero-waste initiatives. The bill mandates a system-level approach to enable nation-wide reuse and recycling, establishes the mandatory reporting framework for packaging beginning 2020.  

Businesses will be required to annually report on types and amounts of packaging materials they bring into the market and their packaging waste reduction plans. The aim is bring greater awareness to companies on the potential for waste reduction and spur them to take action to reduce use and waste in their business operations. The data from this mandatory reporting will lay the foundation for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Framework for managing packaging waste in Singapore, which is targeted for 2025.

Download SEA circular Country Profile for Singapore for more information


COBSEA and National University of Singapore launch database of marine litter research from 13 Asian countries

5 August 2020

COBSEA and National University of Singapore launch database of marine litter research from 13 Asian countries   Bangkok, 5 August 2020 – With plastic pollution a major priority for governments across Asia, scientists have been


Plastic use rising in SEA due to COVID-19

13 April 2020

13 April 2020, Bangkok, Thailand: Single-use plastic bags are making a comeback as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. After their use was restricted at the start of the year, plastic bags can once again be seen littering the st


Supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City to be free of plastic bags by the end of this year

3 April 2020

3 April 2020, HCMC, Viet Nam: All supermarkets, trade centres, convenience stories, and bookstores in Ho Chi Minh City are striving to replace plastic bags with environmentally friendly options by the end of this year. This move i



VIRTUAL REPORT LAUNCH – Perceptions on plastic waste: Insights, interventions and incentives to action from businesses and consumers in South-East Asia

23 June 2020 - 3-4pm (BKK)  8-9am (UTC)

Join UNEP and FIA for a virtual report launch. All participants are warmly invited to join on MS Teams. Find out how perceptions of plastic waste are shaping the plastic pollution challenges and solutions in South-East Asia.


South-East Asia marine litter and plastic circular economy initiatives coordination workshop

9 March 2020

This series of workshops aims to coordinate relevant projects in SEA on marine litter and plastics circular economy, synergize activities and avoid overlaps.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons