Sunday, July 14, 2024
Homesingapore sustainabilityEnvironmental experts sound the alarm on how fast Singapore’s only landfill Semakau...

Environmental experts sound the alarm on how fast Singapore’s only landfill Semakau is filling up

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s only landfill, Semakau, is now more than half full and environmental experts are sounding the alarm on the need for people to reduce their waste – and fast. 

The plot of land, which is larger than 650 football fields, has two parts. The first is nearly at maximum capacity, while the other is around 10 per cent filled. 

The 350ha landfill, which has enough space to hold waste the capacity of 11,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools, is expected to reach full capacity by 2035.

The rubbish produced by nearly 6 million people in Singapore is incinerated, resulting in over 2,000 tonnes of ash and non-incinerable waste like sludge getting sent to Semakau every day.

“We have a real problem in Singapore and rising production of waste by consumers and by households is clearly the main reason for us having this concern,” said Associate Professor Johan Sulaeman, director of the Sustainable and Green Finance Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

REPURPOSING ASH

With the island filling up fast and authorities racing against time to extend its lifespan, Assoc Prof Sulaeman said there are two solutions – repurposing the ash and pushing more actively for a reduction in waste.

“We can mine the ash and repurpose the ash for something that is useful either for construction or perhaps for reclamation of land,” he said, adding that the government is also studying the possible solution.

The National Environment Agency is conducting studies with local universities NUS and Nanyang Technological University to determine if the ash from this island can be repurposed into construction materials.

However, there are challenges in doing so, said Assoc Prof Sulaeman.

Such repurposing could be “controversial to some extent” due to the possibility of the ash being contaminated from the incineration process, he said.

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