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11 Mar 2021 Updated 17 Mar 2021

Singapore can set the region's standards for waste management: Chan Chun Sing

The Business Times Gayle Goh

800 Super landed a S$46 million contract in Phnom Penh with the support of economic agencies, and plans to expand its operations across Cambodia and South-east Asia. PHOTO: CMG

SINGAPORE can set the benchmark for waste management and capture the growing circular economy market in the region, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Thursday. He added that this would help attract a new generation of engineers to join an "exciting" industry, sometimes overlooked for its opportunities.

"No clean and green country or city can do without proper waste management," said Mr Chan, after visiting waste management firm 800 Super Holdings that morning. "If Singapore can be an inspiration to the rest, it will help our companies be able to penetrate other markets in the region."

Amid the pandemic, 800 Super competed successfully among over 20 bidders to land its first contract in Cambodia, valued at S$46 million. The firm worked with its joint-venture partner in Cambodia, GAEA Waste Management, to secure a 10-year deal to collect and transport solid waste in Phnom Penh.

The company is also bringing on board iZeem, a local small and medium enterprise (SME), to provide solutions in fleet management, asset tracking, safety and surveillance, and transport management in Phnom Penh.

Mr Chan noted that various economic agencies had helped 800 Super secure its bid. Enterprise Singapore, the National Environment Agency and Infrastructure Asia - a joint initiative by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore - had linked the company up with the Cambodia project, and helped it bring its operations overseas.

He also highlighted that standards set in Singapore have helped convince overseas buyers that Singapore firms can provide quality services. Enterprise Singapore helps companies adopt internationally-recognised standards and certifications in key industries, including in waste management.

Singapore's environmental services industry employs over 80,000 workers across 2,100 companies providing essential cleaning, waste management and pest management services, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Globally, the waste management market alone was valued at US$2.08 trillion in 2019, and is projected to reach US$2.3 trillion by 2027.

"We have quite an exciting industry here that sometimes people overlook," said Mr Chan. "But it's actually a critical part of our entire ecosystem, because no country can do without waste management."

On the industry's image and its ability to attract talent, he said: "Many people might have an outdated impression of what the waste management industry is like. Today, when we walked around the plant, we could see that the plant is quite advanced."

Mr Chan noted that 800 Super's plant was an integrated waste management facility, with a central command and control system that had required in-house engineering skills to design. "It is quite different from the previous mental model that people might have, that this industry is somehow 'dangerous and dirty'. It is not like that."

"These kinds of interesting engineering problems and challenges should be able to help attract another generation of young engineers to come and join the industry," Mr Chan said. He added that if Singapore companies could expand their footprint, they would also be able to attract engineering talent from the region to complement locals and further develop the industry.

Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.