SINGAPORE is one of the biggest paper users in the world, second only to the United States.
Each person uses nearly 300kg of paper and board a year – or more than the weight of 142 residential telephone directories.
In absolute terms, Singapore used about 1.24 million tonnes of paper and board in 2001, compared with 87.93 million tonnes for the United States, according to Pulp and Paper International, the journal of the global paper industry.
Per capita, Singapore’s 299kg is exceeded only by the Americans’ 324kg a year.
This means that Singaporeans use nearly 43 times as much paper as the Vietnamese, who consume just 7kg per person per year.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the finding was consistent with a 1996 study commissioned by Norway’s Environment Ministry and carried out by the International Institute for Environment and Research in London.
That study put Singapore in the world’s top 10 paper consumers, which also included Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
NEA’s head of resource conservation, Ong Seng Eng, said: “This is not surprising considering our relatively small population, urbanised city state and the fact that our economy is driven by the manufacturing and services-producing industries.”
Singapore also has many printing and publishing firms that handle work for the region and world markets. In all, there are more than 900 such firms here.
Packaging giants such as Tetrapak also have plants here and they are heavy users of paper.
More than 400 different grades of paper are used here, mostly in packaging for food products, in paper products, and for newspapers, magazines and reports.
Still, Singapore does not want to top the list of paper users.
The NEA has begun working with companies to minimise paper wastage and boost recycling. In 2001, about 36% of the paper used here was collected for recycling. This rose to 40% last year.
Much of it was cardboard, newspaper and mixed paper such as magazines, used office paper and flyers, which is exported to recycling mills overseas.
On its own, the NEA cannot meet the target of recycling 55% of the paper used here, as set out in the Singapore Green Plan 2012, said Ong.
It has instead set up a committee representing the public and private sectors to develop new programmes to meet this target.
There is solid cash to be made from this solid waste.
Or SembCorp Environmental Management, which has a recycling arm, would not have paid S$4.68mil (RM10.30mil) for a 60% stake in Tay Paper Resources.
Tay Paper collects about 250 tonnes of used paper a day. Most of it is exported. The rest is turned into paper pellets, which the Singapore Turf Club uses instead of hay to line horses’ stalls.
It is one of many local businesses that make a living from used paper. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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