COMPANIES in Singapore will have to report the packaging used in their products a year earlier than the previous deadline, in the national push to reduce waste.
By the end of 2020, firms that use packaging - from supermarkets to importers - must be ready to submit an annual report to the National Environment Agency (NEA) with information on the type and amount of packaging in their products, as well as their packaging waste reduction plans.
The announcement was made by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the Clean Environment Leaders' Summit at Marina Bay Sands.
He said: "We will bring forward the introduction of a mandatory reporting framework for packaging data and waste reduction plans, from 2021 as earlier announced, to 2020.
"Businesses, such as brand owners, importers and large retailers including supermarkets, will need to start collecting data on the types and amounts of packaging they place on the market and submit plans for reduction."
With the change, firms would have to submit their first report in 2021. Previously, they needed to collect their data and submit the first report by 2022.
In his speech, Mr Masagos also said the Government is studying how feasible it is to make companies responsible for what happens to their plastic or packaging waste after it is thrown away.
The existing Extended Producer Responsibility framework will, by 2021, compel producers of electrical and electronic equipment to ensure their products are collected and recycled or disposed of when they reach the end of their lifespan.
"By making producers responsible for the 'end-of-life' of their products, they will be incentivised to design products that are more easily recycled, or come up with innovative circular economy business models."
Noting that strict rules could hold back the adoption of new ideas, Mr Masagos also announced a regulatory sandbox for the environmental services sector, allowing firms to test technologies and solutions in a setting with relaxed regulations.
At the event, NEA also recognised 13 signatories of the Singapore Packaging Agreement for their efforts to reduce packaging waste.
The organisations, which include Nestle Singapore and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, cumulatively reduced about 46,000 tonnes of packaging waste, enough to fill about 88 Olympic-size swimming pools. This has saved them over S$100 million.
The ideas announced on Tuesday will go into the inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan, which will be released in 2019.