How NEA raises environmental consciousness

WE APPRECIATE the suggestions from Mr Elgar Lee ("Lack of environmental consciousness here"; Nov 1) and Mr Thomas Richard Prakasam ("No plastic bags for small purchases"; last Tuesday).

The National Environment Agency (NEA) adopts a multi-pronged approach to raise environmental consciousness in Singapore, working together with grassroots organisations, schools and non-governmental organisations.

For instance, we hold community events to encourage recycling as well as educate the public on the importance of adopting the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Educational visits to recycling facilities, incineration plants and the offshore Semakau Landfill are also conducted for the public and students.

To inculcate the recycling habit in our young, the NEA collaborates with schools to have recycling corners in every school.

As part of the School Green Awards, the Singapore Environment Council recognises schools that adopt a holistic approach to environmental management, and implement sustainable waste minimisation and recycling programmes.

A Pre-school 3R Awareness Kit has also been developed to assist kindergarten teachers to plan activities to kindle pre-schoolers' interest in the 3Rs.

From a resource conservation viewpoint, the excessive use of plastic bags is indeed wasteful. We therefore welcome the efforts of retailers and environmental groups to encourage consumers to bring their own bags or reduce the use of plastic bags. Residents can also recycle their used plastic bags by depositing them in recycling bins that have been provided islandwide in convenient locations. In Singapore, households reuse plastic bags to bag their refuse such as food waste. This is a good practice that helps avoid spillage, odour and pest infestation during waste collection. These plastic bags are properly incinerated at our waste-to-energy incineration plants and do not end up in our landfill and cause environmental problems.

In line with Mr Lee's suggestion, the NEA has been looking into the feasibility of co-locating recycling bins with litter bins in public areas with high human traffic, to facilitate and encourage the separation of recyclable items from non-recyclable ones.

Ong Soo San

Director, Waste and Resource Management Department

National Environment Agency