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  • Writer's pictureJarratt Ong

Unpacking Packaging Waste

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Issue: Packaging Waste

Vertical: Circular Economy

Information provided by: Cheryl Seow


  • Packaging: Made of any material used to contain, protect, handle, deliver or present goods.

  • Makes up 1/3 of all domestic waste

  • Of which 55% are Plastic, 25% paper, 20% others like metal & glass

  • According to Singapore Environmental Council, 820 million plastic bags, 467 million PET bottles, 473 mil. plastic disposables used in 2018.

  • There are many types of packaging and layers that range from primary, service, secondary, and tertiary packaging.

  • Sheer volume of domestic waste

  • Low recycling rates affects the chances of forming sustainable cities and communities


4 building blocks of Circular Economy:

  1. Circular Economy Design: Build core competencies in circular design that enable reuse, recycling & cascading

  2. New Business Models: innovative new business models that either replace existing ones or seize new opportunities

  3. Reverse Cycles: Additional Skills require to ensure circularity of system

  4. Enablers & Favourable System Conditions: Market mechanisms dominate, with support from policy makers, educational institutions & thought leaders


Players making an impact and creating sustainability opportunities:

  • Singapore Packaging Agreement

Joint Initiative between the Government, Industry & NGOs aimed at reducing packaging waste – modeled after New Zealand’s Packaging Accord & Australia’s National Packaging Covenant.

  • Mandatory Packaging Reporting Framework (MPRF)

Increase transparency & accountability of companies regarding packaging use. Collect data to assess plausibility of implementing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Framework by 2025

  • TRIA – Packaging Manufacturer

Created a closed-loop solution for single-use food packaging: A line of Bio24 packaging made from NEUTRIA®* that can be decomposed within 24 hours once placed in the Bio24 digestor.

  • PACT – Plastic ACTion by WWF Singapore

Provides businesses with life cycle assessments, aggregated data and best practices, enabling them to make science-based decisions to reduce their plastic footprint.

  • CBPAK – Brazil

Created compostable packaging product made from non-edible starch components found in cassava plants

  • BIOPAK – Compostable Packaging Producer Overview

Operates internally-managed composting services – Biopak Compost Club – offering composting services for its customers & businesses to encourage extended user responsibility

  • REPACK – Ecommerce Packaging Waste

Utilises durable & reusable packages made of recycled polypropylene that can last at least 20 cycles.


Potential Obstacles:


  • Retailers may possess a ‘Reactionary’ Mindset:

  • Lacks urgency, largely a response to consumer flak


  • Community Census & Attitudes

  • Unwilling to forgo convenience for sustainability

Waste Management

  • Design of Current Waste Management System (eg reliant on Incineration, Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Systems) may impede circular system: Limited infrastructural support for alternative processes like composting and breaks circular loop


Preview of the deck!


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