18% increase in waste generated in Singapore last year as economic activity picks up

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s overall waste generation rose 18% last year – the first increase after four years of decline – as economic activity picked up after COVID-19 restrictions eased.

In total, about 6.94 million tons of solid waste was generated last year, compared to 5.88 million tons in 2020, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in its annual report on the waste and recycling published on Monday 18 April.

The domestic sector generated 1.82 million tonnes of waste, compared to 1.77 tonnes in 2020, while the non-domestic sector generated 5.12 million tonnes, compared to 4.12 million tonnes in the same period .

Of this total, 3.83 million tonnes of waste was recycled last year, resulting in an overall recycling rate of 55%, compared to 52% the previous year.

Approximately 3.12 million tonnes of solid waste was disposed of, an increase of 10% compared to 2020.

“2020 was an abnormal year with lower waste generation and recycling rates due to the impact of COVID-19, especially during the circuit breaker period (April to May 2020) when activities were reduced” , NEA said.


More waste was generated by the domestic sector, which includes households and business premises such as hawker centers and schools, as the trend of working from home continued in 2021, the NEA said.

At the same time, however, the national recycling rate remained unchanged at 13%.

The NEA said it will continue to encourage households to recycle more and recycle properly, and has also developed educational content to guide the public on which items can and cannot be recycled.

Currently, about 40% of the content found in blue recycling bins cannot be recycled due to contamination, mostly food and liquid waste, as well as electronic waste and polystyrene foam, NEA said.

Households also deposit items such as clothing and stuffed animals, which should not be deposited in the blue bins.

To encourage households to step up their recycling efforts, NEA also plans to distribute recycling containers to those who want them at the end of 2022. More details will be announced later.

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