SINGAPORE – Large shopping malls in Singapore generated 10 per cent less waste last year compared to five years ago, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Sept 24).

The total waste generation for malls with a net lettable area of more than 4,600 sq m fell from 52kg/m2 in 2014 to 47kg/m2 last year, the agency added in a statement.

Meanwhile, the average recycling rate for large shopping malls increased from about 7 per cent, or 3.5kg/m2 in 2014, to about 11 per cent, or 5.1kg/m2 last year.

Since 2014, operators of large shopping malls have been tracking and submitting waste data and waste reduction plans to NEA.

These figures were announced by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor at NEA’s 3R Awards for Shopping Malls event on Tuesday.

Now in its second edition, the awards are an initiative by the agency to encourage and recognise the 3R – reduce, reuse, recycle – efforts of shopping malls and mall retail tenants.

Dr Khor noted that shopping malls, which account for high footfall, generate large amounts of packaging and food waste.

Last year, large shopping malls collectively disposed of 219,000 tonnes of waste, or about 7 per cent of the total waste discarded in Singapore.

She added: “From a business perspective, there are many benefits to gain in generating new value from waste that would have otherwise been discarded.

“Besides cost-savings in the long run, the growth of new industries could be catalysed, if we scale up the extraction of resources from waste.”

She pointed out that an increasing number of malls and building owners have also installed on-site food waste treatment systems that can convert food waste into non-potable water, compost or fertiliser.

NEA’s 3R fund also supported 24 premises in putting in place these systems.

Dr Khor said that following consultation with NEA, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is considering some incentives for building owners to install such food waste digesters on their premises.

Building owners can submit their proposals to URA for consideration and approval is given on a case-by-case basis.

A total of 14 malls and one mall tenant were awarded by NEA on Tuesday for their efforts to minimise waste by implementing measures to reduce, reuse and recycle on their premises.

Three of the malls received the Distinction Award: second-time winners 313 @ Somerset and Jem, as well as first-time participant Tanglin Mall. The other 11 malls and one mall tenant were given the Merit Award.

There were six winners at the inaugural event in 2017.

According to NEA, the malls were evaluated based on four criteria: solid waste management policies; practices to reduce, reuse and recycle; waste disposal and recycling tonnage reports; and engagement with shoppers, tenants and staff on 3R practices.

NEA’s chief executive Tan Meng Dui said it was encouraging to see that the number of winners this year has more than doubled.

“It clearly shows a greater awareness and sensitivity to the issues of waste and sustainability among both our corporates and consumers,” he said.

Come 2035, Singapore’s only landfill, on Semakau Island, is projected to run out of space.

Under the Zero Waste Masterplan, the Republic aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill by 30 per cent by 2030, in order to extend its lifespan.