Waste is not just waste. Companies or creative individuals that can contribute to sustainability solutions for tomorrow’s cities, especially in the field of waste management, will find plenty of business opportunities. This was one important aspect of the panel discussion “Optimising smart technologies for novel environmental solutions” during the CleanEnviro Summit 2018 in Singapore.

Masagos Zulkifli, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said: “Waste management is a key issue that we need to find solutions for!” He referred to alarming facts: In 2017, only 6 percent of Singapore’s plastic and 16 percent of its food waste got recycled, and the city-state’s only landfill is rapidly filling up. Singapore’s incineration plants are only a temporary solution until domestic waste recycling rates can be increased.

But: “Nothing is waste until it’s wasted”! The Minister pointed out that it’s possible to solve the waste issue and a number of other problems related to pollution, resource management and climate change if societies regard waste as a resource.

Panellists described the circular economy as a concept that is essential for creating sustainable environmental solutions. A departure from the linear “take-make-waste” economic models, it seeks to reduce waste, recovers resources at the end of a product’s life, and channels them back into production.

Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, Chair of the Circular Economy Taskforce, National University of Singapore, emphasized that the increasing demand for smart technology solutions (such as smart sensors, advanced tracking technology, blockchain technology and artificial intelligence) that facilitate circular business models, opens new opportunities for creative minds wanting to build high-tech start-ups in these areas.

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