01 May, 2020 12:30 AM / by Quek Leng Chuang
Waste in our society is considered as something bad, something we want to get rid of. When we look at the streets of Singapore, one of the seemingly cleanest cities in South East Asia, if not on earth, we do not see waste. Environmental service providers transport it away fast, usually towards one of the four waste to energy plants in Singapore as overall, only 60% of all the waste is recycled.
Waste is in general seen as something that is rather hidden out of people’s eyes. This, however, is fostering linear thinking rather than circular one. In a linear economy, we see waste as waste, as something that must be hidden and discarded because we cannot use it properly anymore. It is an inconvenient reality we do not want to show. In a circular economy however, we see waste as a treasure.
Also from an economic standpoint of view, it is much more sound to tackle waste with the Zero Waste framework first and recycle it accordingly instead of incinerating or discarding it into the natural environment. Waste is, in fact, a treasure! Especially waste that contains PGMs is a very valuable resource as we only have an extremely limited amount of PGMs on our planet. The whole amount of platinum that was ever mined would fit in a 25 sq ft room! The various applications of PGMs for car catalyst, jewelry and alloys show the strategic importance of these metals. This is also why you can even make money with your waste when you recycle it instead of paying for the disposal of it. Find out more about the kinds of waste we take in for our recycling operations here.
In order to establish a different way of thinking, we must change the way we handle and conceptualize waste from a customer as well as from the business side. EPR (Extended Producer responsibility schemes) that will be fully introduced for electronic waste (white goods) in Singapore until 2022 for example, encourage businesses to think about a more repair-friendly design of their products. The fact that they have to take care of the waste after usage encourages them to make their products easier repairable and recyclable. All of us, consumers, manufacturers and recycling provider, must closely work together in order to make the EPR a holistic success. With the introduction of this scheme, we will also augment our business activities in order to find value in electrical goods.
At Environmental Solutions (Asia), we look towards waste as a resource and all forms of waste can be treasure. Since 1999, our recycling operations have focused on base and precious metal waste, car catalyst containing Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), urban wood waste and other toxic and hazardous waste. In 2020, we will also look towards converting packaging waste (plastic) into NewOil.
Written by Quek Leng Chuang
LengChuang is a chemical engineer and an expert in carbonomics. He is the founder and owner of Environmental Solutions (Asia) Pte Ltd.