Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources & Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the Eco-products International Fair 2013 on 14 Mar 2013
SPEECH BY MS GRACE FU, MINISTER, PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES & SECOND MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE ECO-PRODUCTS INTERNATIONAL FAIR 2013 ON 14 MAR 2013
Mr Teisuke Kitayama,
Chairperson of Green Productivity Advisory Committee, Japan
Mr Ryuichiro Yamazaki,
Secretary-General of Asian Productivity Organisation
Mr Jerome Bacao,
Chairman of Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore
Mr Png Cheong Boon,
Chief Executive of SPRING Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to join you today for the eighth Eco-products International Fair (EPIF) 2013. Singapore is pleased to have the opportunity to host this event again, and whether you are returning to our shores or visiting us for the first time –we warmly welcome you.
Moving Forward with a Sustainability Agenda
Two years ago, the global population exceeded seven billion. 60 per cent resides in Asia, one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. It is an important region because economically it has been progressing very well and with globalisation, much economic activity, production and industrialisation happens in Asia. It is powered by industrialisation but along with it, the standard of living was brought up.
Poverty has been eradicated in many countries and we have seen people enjoying a better life. But it required a congregation of labour forces, extensive movement of resources, whether it is energy, water or raw materials, and global delivery of manufactured parts across the world. Economic development also brought about higher consumption as income levels rose. Concerns over the exploitation of our limited resources, conversion of agricultural land for industrial use, effects of harmful by-products of our manufacturing processes, or simply the insatiable needs for products and services, have been raised and now occupy the attention of many people around the world.
On the other hand, urbanisation, especially the concentration of economic activities in cities, enables us to deliver goods and critical services much more quickly and to good effect, if the city is well organised. A well planned city allows us to enable economic activities, delivery of education and healthcare services, and be socially engaged with one another with high energy efficiency and labour productivity.
Several years ago, a group of young architects presented a concept called “1000 Singapores” at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition. This concept that they presented is very interesting. They reasoned that should the world be organised in cities like Singapore, we can accommodate the entire world’s population in just 1,000 Singapores. With our intense use of land, the entire world population can be accommodated in just 0.5 per cent of the world’s land area. Of course, this is purely a concept. But if so, imagine the amount of land that we can free up to fulfil our long-term needs - for food, for greenery and for biodiversity; imagine the amount of energy that can be saved from minimising transportation; and imagine the improvement we can make to the delivery of clean water, proper sanitation, good healthcare and education to the people around the world.
This is a purely conceptual proposition but it addresses a “middle” ground needed to balance development and sustainability. The fundamental challenge to Governments around the world is one of sustainability while maintaining the quality of life for ourselves and our future generations. For us in Singapore, being a land-scarce country, finding the right balance between economic development and sustainability has been an important objective. We were careful and deliberate in setting the policies to preserve the quality of our air, to ensure the liveability of our environment and also to protect the quality of our water resources. Through long term urban planning, we have transformed Singapore into a thriving metropolis; a manufacturing hub for multi-nationals; a global city where people congregate for business or pleasure; and yet a liveable garden city for our people.
Eco-Products as Practical Applications
Besides long-term urban planning, another part of our environmental policies relate to energy efficiency. Our Singapore Sustainable Blueprint, which sets out our 2030 targets for sustainable development, includes a target to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in energy intensity (energy consumed per GDP dollar) from our 2005 levels.
This is where Eco-Products and the EPIF play a relevant role. Eco-Products make us think about the impact on the environment when products are produced, used or disposed of. The products that are being promoted and exhibited in this fair illustrate to us that innovation and creativity can bring us solutions that will enable development in a sustainable way. From new battery technology for electric vehicles, biodegradable pest-control products, to water heaters powered by waste heat from air-conditioners, we can reduce material and energy costs, and protect the living environment from harmful effects from our consumption.
MELS, MWELS and MEPS
A clear benefit to consumers and businesses is the cost-savings from energy and water consumption over time. To help households make informed choices, I am glad to announce that the Singapore Government will be extending water and energy efficiency labelling to more appliances and explore more mandatory efficiency standards for them.
Our current Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS) and Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) have been effective in expanding the range of higher efficiency appliances in the market. And with more coming in to the market, we hope to bring prices down and make them more affordable to households.
Households who have switched to these appliances are enjoying savings in their electricity bills. Under MELS for household appliances, suppliers are required to provide information on the energy requirements of their products which allows consumers to compare the energy efficiency performance and life-cycle costs of different models. This is to allow them to make better informed purchasing decisions. MEPS on the other hand, helps in removing the most inefficient models from our market, by prohibiting the sale of all appliance models that do not meet the minimum specified energy efficiency levels.
To further aid our consumers, MELS will be expanded to include televisions from 2014, while the National Environment Agency will also tighten MEPS standards for air conditioners and refrigerators in September 2013, and introduce standards for clothes dryers and general lighting in 2014.
For water efficiency, the Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (MWELS) was introduced in 2009 for products such as taps, flushing cisterns and urinals to help consumers chose water-efficient products. Washing machines was included in the MWELS in 2011, and PUB will also set a minimum water efficiency standard of one tick for washing machines from April 2014.
Besides the adoption of green innovations and resource-efficient technologies, households can also help push the sustainability agenda through recycling. Currently, our household recycling remains poor, but our recent nationwide study on household recycling behaviour shows that most households actually want to recycle but do not do so for a variety of reasons.
Beyond making it more convenient for households to recycle by enhancing the recycling infrastructure, for example more bins and more collections, my Ministry plans to encourage behavioural change among individuals by providing incentives. Many countries including the United States and Japan charge households according to the weight of waste disposed. To encourage households here to reduce their waste and recycle more, we are currently exploring the feasibility of moving towards a usage-based pricing waste disposal system that will allow households to directly reap the benefits of reducing waste. We will be conducting a few “Save-As-You-Reduce” pilot projects in the Punggol and Bartley areas, involving a small number of HDB blocks, condominiums and landed properties, as well as at the first HDB Greenprint precinct at Yuhua. During these pilots, residents will be regularly informed on how much they have recycled and thrown away.
As I conclude, let me encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities that are available at this event through conferences, forums and networking sessions, to share and deepen your understanding of sustainability. Whether you are a consumer or a business, you have a key role to play in achieving our common environmental goals. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the organisers: the Asian Productivity Organisation, the Waste Management & Recycling Association of Singapore and SPRING Singapore, on their joint efforts in organising and bringing the Eco-Products International Fair to Singapore again.
I wish you great success and hope you have a wonderful stay in Singapore. Thank you.