Sunday, November 21, 2010

A waste disposal tax is long overdue

We are losing our country parks to landfills while the MTRC continues to expand the size of advertising space along station walls, on station floors, and train bodies. Such space is covered in self-adhesive vinyl (often dozens of meters long) that after a couple of weeks is removed and sent to landfills.

Using vinyl, which has a huge environmental impact, is totally irresponsible and if the government were serious about waste reduction, it would discourage this form of advertising by imposing a waste disposal tax. When will the real cost of advertising be calculated?

A waste disposal tax would force advertising agencies to switch to more creative and sustainable techniques. I don't see anything creative in destroying the planet while trying to make us buy one brand rather than another. A waste disposal tax would send a strong signal that the government is determined to reduce waste.

But just how determined is it? It hasn’t even managed to write a code of conduct for its own departments. The East Asian Games come to mind: the number of vinyl banners displayed in our city surpassed by far the number of spectators. Hardly a successful campaign. Undeterred, they continue to hang vinyl banners that add visual clutter to our streets, beaches and parks, and will inevitably end up in landfills. Surely there are better ways to increase public awareness of the risks of drink driving, drug abuse, dengue fever, encephalitis, rodent infestation, pickpockets, etc. than covering the city in huge banners that will only start to decompose in 50 years time.
Maybe these officials are unaware that vinyl PVC is a durable material that presents environmental concerns, both in its manufacture and disposal, and shouldn't be used as liberally as they do.

The URA, responsible for the recent makeover of Central Market, is just as oblivious to the necessity of reducing waste: a historic Bauhaus-style building which is far more environmentally-friendly in its design than most new buildings, was completely wrapped in green vinyl to create, listen, a “central oasis".
Has anybody ever seen an oasis made of plastic? A vertical garden would have been a better solution, and would have reduced pollution and indoor temperature instead of adding to it.

If nobody puts a stop to this vinyl fever, soon there will be no more green oasis to escape to, as our country parks make room for waste disposal facilities.

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