Saturday 30 June 2012

Singapore improves scores in green record card

By Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times, 29 Jun 2012

SINGAPORE improved its environmental performance in almost all areas last year, said a government report published yesterday.

The country recycled more, hawkers cleaned up their stalls, and households used less water. The only dark spot was the air pollutants in the Republic.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide rose for the second consecutive year, and the amount of polluting particles in the air continued to exceed World Health Organisation guidelines.

The annual report tracks the country's performance in all green matters, from recycling to water management to the number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the roads.

It showed that almost 60 per cent of solid waste created last year was recycled, keeping Singapore on track to hit its target of 65 per cent by 2020.

But the high rate was likely to be the result of industry being conscientious. While almost all construction debris was recycled, only about half of the paper waste and 10 per cent of food and plastic waste had a second life.

Two-thirds of the food courts, restaurants and other food shops received the top 'A' grade in hygiene and cleanliness, while about 30 per cent of hawker stalls in Singapore received the same grade. Both were improvements on previous years.

Experts said the patchy track record in air pollutants was partly the result of the perennial haze in the region.

Associate Professor Matthias Roth, acting head of the National University of Singapore's geography department, said ultra-small particles called PM2.5 could come from the haze, the combustion of fossil fuels in motor vehicles and construction works.

The fine particles are hazardous as they easily penetrate lungs and enter the bloodstream. Studies suggest chronic exposure could increase the risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma.

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