Clean Enviro Summit: Start afresh, dump old habits

Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 Jun 14;

To change people's recycling behaviour, one has to change their social norms, pit them against each other, tug at heartstrings or hit where it hurts - the wallet - say international experts at a waste-management convention.

Experts from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Taiwan and Austria shared their various economies' success stories - and some of their failures - at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore at Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday.

Making recycling compulsory and charging for waste has worked in Belgium, Taiwan and Austria.

In 1998, for instance, the small Belgian city of Antwerp began mandating that residents separate plastic, paper, glass, and vegetable and garden waste, said its municipal sanitation operational director, Mr Tim De Mulder.

It also charges for each bag of waste disposed using high-tech passcard-based bins. Enforcement stops people from simply dumping their waste beside bins.

While residents howled at first, noted Mr De Mulder, they recycled more and their trash shrank - to 145kg per person a year today, down from 555kg a year in 1997.

And the Flemish government ran a campaign featuring cleaning workers saying things like "Every day I lift seven tonnes of waste" or "Every day I clean two football fields' worth of streets". This built respect for cleaning employees, Mr De Mulder added.

Some countries prefer the carrot to the stick, although this does not always do the trick, as some campaigners have found.

For instance, incentives may not work if they reward only those who are already recycling, rather than getting people to start doing it, said Ms Sarahjane Widdowson of environmental policy consultancy Ricardo-AEA, pointing to a prize draw for recycling in the London district of Westminster, which drew just 2,500 entries in an entire year, and barely increased recycling.

As for people here, what they see as a social norm will have to change if recycling is to take off, said the National University of Singapore business school's Professor Catherine Yeung.

" 'Trash all items' is a social norm in Singapore," she said.

She proposes pitting housing blocks, work teams in an office or school classes against one another to see who could recycle more, and giving them feedback on how they do - something that has worked in the United States in decreasing household energy use.

CleanEnviro Summit closes with S$318m of deals
Channel NewsAsia 6 Jun 14;

SINGAPORE: More than S$318 million worth of projects were announced at the second edition of the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore (CESS), with an estimated S$369 million worth of potential deals in the pipeline, the event’s organisers said on Friday (June 6).

Deals signed at the summit, which ended on Wednesday, include a S$15 million project for the development and operation of a metal recovery facility to recover metals from incineration bottom ash. Two tenders for Integrated Public Cleaning contracts worth S$301 million were also awarded.

Organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the summit was held from June 1 to 4 in conjunction with the World Cities Summit and Singapore International Water Week. More than 20,000 participants - including ministers, government officials, industry leaders, academics and representatives from international organisations - from 118 countries attended the events, according to the NEA.

Said NEA Chief Executive Officer Ronnie Tay: “The vibrant exchange of best practices and experiences, as well as innovation and technologies across government and industry sectors over the past few days is testament to the strong level of commitment from stakeholders to adopt innovative solutions to address rising challenges. This is a positive step in changing mindsets to make environmental issues a critical part of business decisions.”

The next CleanEnviro Summit Singapore will be held from July 10 to 14, 2016, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands, NEA said.

- CNA/cy