New framework to help extend Semakau Landfill’s lifespan
S'pore's only landfill is currently projected to last till 2035
More than 2,000 tonnes of waste - 1,500 tonnes of incinerated ash and 600 tonnes of non-incinerable waste - is dumped into Semakau Landfill every day. At the current rate, the lifespan of Singapore's only landfill is projected to be until 2035.
"That is not too far away," warned Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).
Speaking at the landfill's 20th anniversary celebration yesterday, she added: "This highlights the urgent need to save Semakau and find ways to extend its lifespan beyond 2035."
The MEWR aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill by 30 per cent in 2030 and to achieve it, Dr Khor said a new legislative framework called the Resource Sustainability Act will manage three key waste streams, namely e-waste, food waste and packaging waste, including plastics.
Dr Khor was the guest-of-honour at yesterday's event, which was organised by the National Environment Agency.
The 350ha Semakau Landfill is located in a sea space between two islands - Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng - some 8km south of Singapore.
Anyone expecting a barren wasteland at the landfill will be surprised to see swathes of green spaces and about 80 species of birds, including the white-bellied sea eagle and the great-billed heron.
Even at the onset, care was taken to ensure the waters off the world's first offshore landfill was kept clean.
Silt traps were used to stop sediment from flowing into the water during construction - which started in 1995 - and 400,000 mangrove saplings were planted by hand to replace the mangrove swamps that had to go because of works.
Dr Khor said yesterday that there is a strict process to ensure that incineration ash is landfilled properly.
Any displaced seawater is also treated before being discharged into the sea.
The MEWR is hopeful that NEWSand - construction material created from incinerated waste residue - could also help extend the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill.
It is currently conducting field trials to further study how NEWSand could be used for construction, and Dr Khor said: "This will help close our waste loop, reduce the waste residues landfilled and further extend the lifespan of Semakau Landfill."
But she stressed the need to make sustainable adjustments to individual lifestyle choices, like following the three Rs of reducing, reusing and recycling to cut waste generation and disposal.
Dr Khor said: "The government's efforts alone will not be enough. Extending the lifespan of our only landfill requires a whole-of-nation effort involving the government, industry, community, households and individuals.
"It is only by working together that we can save our own landfill."