Achema Pulse: Recycling Cooperation International Collaboration for Plastic Recycling – Closing the Waste Loop in Singapore
If it sounds German to you, then that's on purpose: The Grün-Book is a publication written by German, Austrian and Swiss experts to provide a guideline for a modern recycling concept in Singapore. At Achema Pulse, Dr Tim Philippi and Joachim Ihrcke presented solutions defined in this publication for closing the waste loop in Singapore.
Frankfurt/ Germany — Singapore is faced with major challenges dominated by high population density and climate change. Although, the small nation has come a long way since its foundation and now boasts a flourishing economy, there are still some issues to be solved. As Dr Tim Philippi, Delegate of German Industry and Commerce (SGC/AHK Singapur) explains, one of these challenges is presented by plastic waste: Only four percent of the more than 850.000 tons of plastic waste disposed of each year is currently recycled in the island state. The majority of the waste is incinerated to generate power. However, burning plastic is one of the most CO2-intensive ways to generate electricity, Philippi pointed out. Only coal has a worse CO2-footprint. But Singapore has now identified and addressed the plastic waste problem in its Zero Waste Master Plan released in 2019. This master plan points out three major waste streams:
- Food Waste
- Electrical and electronic devices
- Packaging Waste (including plastic)
“Germany is known worldwide for its waste separation and recycling systems”, says Philippi. Globally, German companies would be leading in plastic recycling technologies, he stated. In a position paper published in 2020 the Singapore Environment Council recommends to change from linear economy to circular economy. One of the strategies proposed to learn from other leaders in waste recycling such as Germany. Experienced companies from Germany are to support the country in founding a Center for Excellence for Plastics Recycling. To lay the foundation for the Center of Excellence, the chamber of commerce published the so called “Grün-Book” with a proposal for a project-based approach for a PET recycling plant.
The publication addresses the importance of Plastic Recycling in Singapore and covers a comprehensive summary of the Zero Waste Masterplan, an overview of German Recycling capabilities, a case-study on a specific project in international cooperation for a bottle-to-bottle recycling plant, and an extensive listing of more than 400 recycling companies and organisations.
According to Joachim Ihrcke, Chairman of the Sustainability Committee of the SGC and Vice President of the Plastics Recycling Association of Singapore (Pras), the objective was to establish a Centre of Excellence for Plastics Recycling (PRCOE) in Singapore and a PET Bottle-to-Bottle Recycling Plant at its core, with the aim of becoming the Regional Hub for knowledge on Plastics recycling. Systems and knowledge on plastic recycling in the German speaking region of Europe are to be studied and adapted to the region and promoted regionally to encourage plastic recycling efforts in South-East Asia. To this end, Pras has defined a timetable shown in this picture gallery:
The Plastics Recycling Association Singapore brings together organisations, societies, institutions and government agencies to discuss ways to support plastic waste recycling. As Ihrcke points out “This is not a junior partner / senior partner relationship. But we are talking eye-to-eye. That is why in our board, the majority of the members are companies, institutions and government statutory boards from Singapore.”