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Keywords: Environmental Management
Study report
Victor R Savage
2009/2010 EnvM
Issue Date: 4-Jan-2010
Abstract: The prevalence of packaging in the daily lives of city dwellers, its visibility in the municipal waste stream and pollution to the environment in the form of litter have led many countries to adopt the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principle to address the environmental problems cause by packaging. The EPR is the logical extension of the “polluter pays” principle. It is one of the principles of the Rio Declaration passed at the 1992 Earth Summit. This study uses an interpretative approach of secondary materials to examine Singapore’s packaging usage, evaluate the effectiveness of measures to reduce the use of packaging and recommend enhancements to the measures. Review of the effectiveness of measures in other countries to reduce the use of packaging was carried out to serve as a backdrop to the study. Singapore consumes a relatively huge amount of packaging. Packaging makes up one - third of its domestic waste comparable to that of the US. Keeping the amount of waste generated in check is important in ensuring that scarce land resources is not wasted on housing landfill and incineration plants. The Singapore Government in partnership with the businesses community and non-governmental organisations including the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) have put in place two programmes, namely the Singapore Packaging Agreement (SPA) and ‘Bring Your Own Bag Day’ (BYOBD) campaign to alleviate the burden which packaging waste place on the municipal waste management system and facilities. The study found that the Singapore Packaging Agreement developed base on the EPR principle and formulated through a partnership approach carries strong incentives that appeal to businesses. The well-structured framework and non-prescriptive characteristic of the agreement enable signatories to achieve economic efficiency while contributing to the desired environmental outcome. Nevertheless, the implementation of the agreement could be enhanced with increase transparency in the reporting of signatories’ compliance with the agreement. This could be achieved by making the code of practice adhered by signatories and the annual reports submitted by signatories available for public scrutiny. On the other hand, the ‘Bring Your Own Bag Day’ campaign targeted at both consumers and retailers to reduce the use of disposable shopping bags have not been as successful. This is not surprising as educational campaigns in Singapore rarely result in satisfactory outcomes. To enhance the effectiveness of the ‘Bring Your Own Bag Day’ campaign, the study suggests that retailers could be encouraged to sign up to a voluntary scheme. Under the scheme, retailers would be committed to reduce the amount of plastic bags use by a specific quantum within a certain timeframe. The scheme would be accompanied with a credible ‘threat’ of taxation on plastic bags if the desired reduction in plastic bag usage is not achieved. From the results of the Singapore Packaging Agreement and ‘Bring Your Own Bag Day’ campaign, the study concludes that the application of the ‘polluter pays’ principle could effectively optimise resource efficiency and consequently minimise the environmental impacts of production and consumption. Moving forward, to achieve a sustained fall in packaging waste, the principle of ‘polluter pays’ should be apply across the board, so that businesses and consumers would take into account the environmental impacts of their activities.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Restricted)

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