Waste Not, Want Not. East Meets Waste

If you look around the world today, particularly in Asia, most of the waste is dumped in landfills. National Environment Agency CEO Andrew Tan thinks it’s time to look at more sustainable ways of managing waste. That’s reason enough for Singapore to organise the very first CleanEnviro Summit and WasteMET Asia in the first week of July this year. ZDNet Asia has the story and Ken Hickson has his say. Read More

By Ryan Huang on ZDNet Asia (20 April 2012):

Organizers of World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit, tell ZDNet Asia why an integrated approach is important for tackling increasingly complex urbanization challenges and what they hope to achieve this year.

SINGAPORE–Come July, the country will take a new approach to help global cities find solutions to challenges regarding urbanization by simultaneously hosting three events–World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week, and the inaugural CleanEnviro Summit.

At a media briefing held here Friday, show organizers expressed hope that the integration of all three events–themed “liveable and sustainable cities”–will give world leaders a wider platform to exchange ideas and best practices. Topics to be discussed include how technology can be harnessed to build smart cities.

Technology will play an important part in making cities more liveable and sustainable, noted Cheng Hsing Yao, deputy executive director at the Centre for Liveable Cities. “When it’s used with strong governance and very well-evolved policies, technologies could be used to trace and sense and track, say, the flow of traffic, water and drainage, and so on.

“In addition, technologies can also be used for things such as telecommuting so we can spend less time on moving around and more time on quality life,” Cheng told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the briefing.

One focus at the biannual World Cities Summit will be the ramping up of opportunities for business collaboration. This includes a new platform, called in-focus sessions, on which government leaders and service providers share their ideas and explore investment opportunities in the region, he said.

Cheng pointed out that one of the in-focus sessions will focus on Japan’s experience in its rebuilding efforts after a spate of natural disasters recently.

Added focus on waste management

Another new event that will be introduced is the CleanEnviro Summit which will focus on waste management solutions. Citing estimates from Pike Research, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) noted that, in 2011, out of the 2 billion tonnes of municipal waste generated around the world, only 11 percent went into waste-to-energy plants, while the majority 70 percent ended up in landfills.

According to NEA CEO Andrew Tan, the summit was timely as discussions over waste management had always taken a backseat to other issues such as water and energy.

“There’s one area that’s missing in this equation and that is waste,” Tan said. “If you look around the world today, particularly in Asia, most of the waste is dumped in landfills. It may be the easiest solution but it may not be the best, and I think it’s time to look at more sustainable ways of managing waste.”

Encouraging more partnerships

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), which will be in its fifth instalment this year, is seeking to encourage more partnerships for water solutions.

Chew Men Leong, CEO of Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, said the show’s networking platform TechXchange–introduced last year–will be expanded.

“This year, TechXchange will be full day [event], where we will bring the innovators and match them with investors, and see how we can take the technologies out of the labs and help to commercialize them–both in Singapore, and on a regional and global basis.”

Source: www.zdnetasia.com,  www.siww.comn.sg, www.cleanenvirosummit.sg, www.worldcitiessummit.com.sg

By Aneeta Sundararaj in New Straits Times, Malaysia (7 April 2012):

East Meets Waste:  with effective waste management, we will not only save the planet but also money

MOST people start becoming environmentally-friendly by sorting household waste into paper, glass and plastic. Then, they take this waste to a recycling centre and discard it in the hope that the waste will be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner. What if this process could become a sustainable business as well?

Ken Hickson of Sustain Ability Showcase Consultancy Asia Pte Ltd sees this as a distinct possibility.

“Sustainability is more than about helping the environment and committing to charitable causes. In a business sense, it involves corporate social responsibility, governance, ethics and transparency,” explains Hickson.

“Say a company wants to invest in a Clean Development Mechanism project. They come to know of a small company that has developed solar power lights. They can invest in this business and provide these lights in an off-grid area. These new lights will replace kerosene lamps which can damage the environment.”

Continuing, he says “It’s a win-win situation.” The company investing in such a project will get carbon credits and the affected area will become more environmentally friendly. The whole idea of carbon credits is to encourage investment in clean energy as an alternative or additional to what’s happening now.”


What underlies Hickson’s arguments is this: “There is a nexus between water, food and climate. It has been reported by the UN recently that water problems in many parts of the world are chronic. If we don’t crack down on waste, the situation will worsen as demand for food will rise,” says Hickson.

After a pause, he asks: “Do you know how much food is wasted?”

Then he frowns and answers: “An American throws away about 15 kilogrammes of food each month. In 2010 alone, 15 million kilogrammes of food ended up in landfills or incinerators across the US.”

Asia does not lag far behind as it is estimated that close to US$25 billion (RM77 billion) is spent on solid waste management per year.

What Hickson is interested in is how to use this waste. “It’s a paradigm shift. Rather than just getting rid of things, albeit in an environmentally-friendly manner, we need to see how we can use these same things as a resource.”


Taipei is one of the best examples of waste management in Asia. Hickson explains how citizens of Taipei had to “hand over their waste in special plastic bags to the municipal council”.

The council had special times and venues to collect such waste. As a result, domestic waste in Taipei has dropped by 60 per cent in 10 years. “It’s an example of effective collection, distribution and management of waste.”

Waste can be categorised in the following manner: the first is chemical waste. This is waste from chemical plants and is both a health and environmental hazard. Then we have electronic waste such as televisions and telephones.

Last is municipal waste such as food, paper and glass.

Reiterating his stance, he says: “Let’s not just dump our waste. Let’s use it.”

He describes how, in Australia, there’s a company that uses CO2 emissions from coal-fired power stations as fuel to grow algae. The oil from this algae is used as fuel and the algae itself is used as feed stock for farming. “CO2 is just going into the air. Here’s a good way to use it.”


Then, whipping out his calling card, he asks: “Do you know the paper for my calling card is made from by-products of sugarcane waste?”

Hickson goes on to cite a few more examples of companies around the world that re-use waste products.

First, there’s Cleanevent which focuses on events like the Olympics and Formula 1 Races. “It manages what goes into events.

So, when you reduce the amount of packaging that goes into events, you can reduce the waste that comes out.”

Alpahbio Fuels is a Singaporean company that develops programmes to collect and process wasted cooking oil to make biodiesel.

Then there’s Solena Jet Biofuel Project with British Airways where municipal waste destined for landfill sites will be processed and converted to biomass and organic products to be used to fuel jets.

Hickson’s message is clear: “With proper effort in managing our waste effectively, we will not only save the planet, we will also save money.”

Source: www.nst.com.my

The theme for CleanEnviro Summit Singapore 2012 is “”Innovative Clean Enviro-Solutions for Asia’s Growing Cities”.

By 2030, Asia will see one of the biggest urban population explosions in the world. As many cities in Asia are beginning to urbanise, there will be vital opportunities and challenges in managing the various environmental issues faced by every modern city.


Issues on waste management, air pollution, public sanitation and clean water are some of the challenges that emerging Asian cities grapple with in the search of cost-effective and innovative solutions to tackle the problems. Sustaining a clean environment in tandem with urbanisation will become increasingly pertinent in Asia, together with higher accessibility to the provision of more efficient environmental management services.

Source: www.cleanenvirosummit.sg and www.wastemetasia.sg

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