Hawkers discouraged from using disposable utensils, packaging: MEWR

However, this would have to be weighed against practical challenges such as the cost of alternatives and greater inconvenience to hawkers and consumers, says the ministry.
Today Online 9 May 16;

SINGAPORE: While the authorities are looking into ways to discourage the use of disposable tableware made of polystyrene foam in hawker centres, this will have to be weighed against "practical challenges", said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources, on Monday (May 9).

Dr Khor told Parliament that these practical challenges include the cost of alternatives and greater inconvenience to hawkers and consumers, in response to a question by MP Cheng Li Hui on whether the National Environment Agency will consider banning the use of styrofoam packaging in hawker centres.

She added that the majority of hawker stalls here use reusable crockery, though some hawkers use styrofoam packaging to serve food and pack food for takeaway due to its good thermal insulation and convenience.

She noted that there are benefits in switching from styrofoam packaging to more environmentally-friendly options. The use of reusable crockery also avoids the problem of disposable plates being blown off tables, and helps reduce the overall waste volume.

"Polystyrene foam packaging is of concern in some countries where waste is landfilled, as it is non-biodegradable and consequently remains in the landfill for a long time," she said.

"In Singapore, however, all our incinerable waste including polystyrene foam packaging is incinerated safely at waste-to-energy incineration plants, which are fitted with pollution control equipment."

- CNA/kk


No ban of styrofoam packaging, but hawkers discouraged from using it
Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 10 May 16;

SINGAPORE - Hawkers here are discouraged from using disposable plates, bowls and utensils made of polystyrene foam, better known as styrofoam, which are non-biodegradable and environmentally unfriendly.

But the Government will not impose a ban on them in consideration of other factors, such as the cost of alternatives and inconvenience to hawkers and consumers, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said on Monday (May 9).

Other types of disposable ware, such as plastic containers and coated paper boxes, cost about two to three times more than the clamshell polystyrene foam packaging, she added.

Dr Khor noted that the use of reusable crockery is more cost-effective than using styrofoam packaging, even after taking into account the costs of manual collection and washing. However, there may be manpower constraints.

The Government is working to discourage hawkers, through the hawker associations, the use of disposable ware, Dr Khor said.

"We need to take into account the cost of alternative options, as well as manpower constraints for these hawkers and the inconvenience that may be caused. As much as possible, we'll encourage them not to use disposable ware, particularly for dining in," Dr Khor told Parliament.

She was responding to a question raised by Miss Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC), on whether the National Environment Agency (NEA) will consider imposing a ban on the use of styrofoam packaging in hawker centres in view of its detrimental effects on the environment.

A number of cities around the world, including Penang in Malaysia, New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle in the United States, have implemented bans on polystyrene foam packaging.

Dr Khor said that while polystyrene foam packaging may be of concern in some countries where waste is landfilled, it is incinerated safely in Singapore at waste-to-energy incineration plants, which are fitted with pollution control equipment.

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