Canned, bottled drinks could cost up to 20 cents more, but redeemable when recycled

A variety of beverages in plastic bottles and metal cans on shelves at a grocery store.
A variety of beverages in plastic bottles and metal cans on shelves at a grocery store. (PHOTO: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A proposed scheme to encourage recycling and reduce waste could see consumers of canned or bottled drinks having to fork out 10 or 20 cents more as a "deposit".

This extra cost can be redeemed if the consumers return the empty cans or bottles for recycling at any of the islandwide beverage container return points.

This proposed scheme is planned to be rolled out by mid-2024, and the National Environment Agency said in a media release on Tuesday (20 September) that it is inviting the public to share their views and suggestions by 14 October.

Similar schemes implemented in other countries

Similar schemes for beverage containers have been implemented in about 50 jurisdictions including Norway, Germany, Croatia, and Australian states such as New South Wales and Western Australia.

In Singapore, it is estimated that more than 1 billion pre-packaged beverages, such as those in plastic bottles or metal cans, are supplied into the market yearly.

Based on the performance of overseas recycling schemes, up to 80 per cent of empty beverage containers could be returned for recycling under the proposed beverage container return scheme.

Drinks will be labelled with a deposit mark and consumers can claim a refund of the deposits when they return their empty beverage containers to a return point. This redemption will likely be in the form of cash or digital transfer.

Return points will be set up at all supermarkets that are larger than 200 sq m. Other possible return locations include convenience stores and community centres.

Low recycling rates for packaging waste

The scheme was proposed by the Citizens' Workgroup on #RecycleRight in 2019, and was first announced during the 2020 Committee of Supply debates. It aims to increase the recycling rate of beverage containers and encourage good recycling practices.

NEA said that packaging waste, including plastics, has high volume generation but low recycling rates. About a third of domestic waste disposed of is packaging waste, and about 60 per cent of this is plastic waste. In 2021, only 6 per cent of plastic waste disposed of was recycled.

The beverage container return scheme will contribute towards Singapore’s targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill per capita per day by 20 per cent by 2026 and 30 per cent by 2030, and to increase the national recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030.

"The beverage container return scheme has the potential to significantly improve our beverage container recycling rate," said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment.

"It will be a step forward in the way Singapore manages our packaging waste. We encourage everyone to use this public consultation to share their views and suggestions on how we can make this scheme a sustainable one that works for Singapore.”

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