National Environment Agency
National Environment Agency
Consultation Period:
20 Sep 2022 - 14 Oct 2022
Status:
Open

Detailed Description

Public Consultation On Proposed Beverage Container Return Scheme

Aim

1. The National Environment Agency (NEA) would like to seek views from the public on the proposed beverage container return scheme (“Scheme”), which was first proposed by the Citizens’ Workgroup on #RecycleRight in 2019 to increase the household recycling rate and reduce contamination in recycling bins. 

2. Under the proposed Scheme, a small deposit will be applied to metal and plastic beverage containers when consumers buy a pre-packaged beverage. Consumers can then claim a refund of their deposit by returning their empty beverage container to a return point. 

3. This public consultation outlines the proposed Scheme and invites views from the public, particularly on the type of beverage containers to be covered, deposit amount, and return point locations.

Background 

4. Packaging waste, including plastics, has high generation volume and low recycling rates. About a third of domestic waste disposed of is packaging waste, and about 60% of this is plastic waste. In 2021, only 6% of plastic waste disposed of was recycled. The proposed Scheme is a key initiative to address packaging waste, and will contribute towards Singapore’s targets set under the Zero Waste Masterplan1 and Singapore Green Plan, to reduce waste sent to landfill per capita per day by 30 per cent by 20302, and to increase the national recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030.

5. About 50 jurisdictions have implemented such a scheme, including Norway, Germany, Croatia, and Australian states such as New South Wales and Western Australia. Upon implementation, many have seen return rates for beverage containers increase significantly, to as high as over 80 per cent. 

6. The Scheme will be the first phase of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach to manage packaging waste. EPR frameworks aim to make producers responsible for the collection and end-of-life management of the products they put on the market. An EPR policy for managing electrical and electronic waste was introduced in July 2021 which was the first EPR framework implemented in Singapore. 

Beverage container return scheme

7. The Scheme aims to:

a) Increase the recycling rate of beverage containers and reduce the amount of waste disposed of as well as carbon emissions; and

b) Raise consumer awareness on the importance of 3Rs (i.e., Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and encourage good recycling practices. 

8. The Scheme will contribute to our zero waste efforts by cultivating recycling habits, and aggregating clean and high-quality recyclables, which can be used to make new products. This diverts waste from landfill and enables the shift from a linear take-make-throw economy to a circular economy where resources can be used again and again. By increasing the supply and quality of recyclables collected, it is also envisaged that the Scheme will be conducive to the development of Singapore’s recycling industry. 

Proposed Scheme framework

9. The Scheme is proposed to be implemented by mid-2024. A grace period will subsequently be provided for producers and retailers to clear existing stock and ensure all covered pre-packaged beverages comply with the necessary requirements. 

10. The proposed key parameters of the Scheme are summarised below. 

a) Deposit amount. The Scheme involves consumers paying a small flat deposit amount for each beverage container, which is added to the price of pre-packaged beverages upon purchase. The full deposit amount will be refunded to consumers when they return the empty beverage container to designated return points. The deposit amount in overseas schemes with high return rates, such as Norway, Lithuania and Germany, generally ranges from about S$0.10 to S$0.40 per container (adjusted for purchasing power parity). Based on feedback from past engagement sessions, a flat deposit amount of S$0.10 to S$0.20 per beverage container would be reasonable to motivate return for recycling.

b) Coverage. The container material types covered by similar schemes in other jurisdictions include metal cans, plastic bottles, beverage cartons and glass bottles. It is proposed that for the Singapore scheme, metal cans and plastic bottles that are 150ml to 3 litres be included due to their high material value and high level of consumption, as well as the ease of collection and compaction. Beverage cartons and glass bottles could be considered in a later phase. 

The Scheme is intended to cover all pre-packaged beverages (including beer, concentrate, fruit juice, milk/dairy, soft drinks, spirits, water, and wine). To help consumers identify containers covered under the Scheme, beverage containers would be labelled with a Singapore deposit mark

c) Return points. Eligible containers can be deposited into a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) or returned over-the-counter (e.g., via a cashier) at designated return points. For convenience, return points will generally be located at retail outlets and community spaces.  For Singapore, it is proposed that large supermarkets with a total floor area of >200m2 be mandated to set up return points. Additional return points would be set up at other locations in the community (e.g., Community Clubs, Town Centres and sport facilities) to increase accessibility.

d) Refund methods. The possible deposit refund options include: 

Electronic transfer: Consumers receive the deposit through electronic transfer (e.g., payment to EZ-link card, NETS FlashPay card, bank transfer or other apps such as PayNow and PayPal);

Cash / cash voucher: Consumers receive the deposit in cash for over-the-counter returns, or receive a cash voucher from an RVM which can be redeemed for cash or used to offset purchases in stores; or

Donations to charity.

11. More details on the proposed Scheme framework are in the Public Consultation Paper on Proposed Beverage Container Return Scheme in the Annex

Consultation conducted to date

12. Following the Workgroup’s recommendation, a survey of 1,000 households was conducted in early 2021, and around 8 in 10 respondents were generally supportive of implementing the Scheme to encourage recycling of beverage containers. 

13. Since 2020, NEA has been consulting various stakeholders to develop a scheme that is suitable for our local context. These stakeholders include beverage producers, retailers, waste management companies, environmental groups and members of the public. NEA also considered learning points from overseas schemes, as well as from the Recycle N Save initiative, jointly launched by F&N and NEA in October 2019. Views and feedback from these engagements were carefully considered in the development of the proposed Scheme. 

Consultation details

14. The Public Consultation Paper on Proposed Beverage Container Return Scheme can be found in the Annex. Views may be submitted via the online survey form uploaded at https://go.gov.sg/nea-bcrs-survey or by clicking the button below. The closing date for the submission of views and feedback is 14 October 2022 (Friday), 2359 hrs. A summary of responses will be published thereafter.



1 https://www.mse.gov.sg/resources/zero-waste-masterplan.pdf
2 From the 2018 levels.