Singapore: Government steps up anti-littering drive

From the Flickr page of xcode

Despite the strict laws against littering in Singapore, the number of offenders still went up in recent years prompting the Singapore government to intensify its anti-litter campaign. A more aggressive shame campaign will be implemented and “litter-free Ambassadors” will be recruited.

Tan Kin Lian believes Singapore should revert to being a “fine” society

Singapore used to be a “fine” society. There is a fine for littering and for jay-walking. This has been relaxed for the past one or two decades.

The environmental agency is now taking action to enforce littering. It is time to take action to enforce other aspects of our law, such as jay-walking and cheating. We need to revert back to our fine and orderly society.

Rex is surprised that the government will spend 12 million dollars for the anti-litter campaign

I was so surprised today to read that the government will spent TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS on the campaign to enforce no-littering habits. TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS. Oh my god. The already filthy rich newspaper, topnotch media companies, are no doubt the main beneficiaries, carrying full page advertisements, creating commercial clips run on prime time TV

Chee Ming writes that foreign workers, which comprise 20 percent of Singapore’s population, should be reminded as well about the campaign

It's strange that we have to enforce law to deter littering when we have litter bin all around Singapore. In fact, I suspect Singapore is the country that has the highest proportion of rubbish bin to population.

Since we were well-educated from young not to litter, I think the fine imposed on littering is targeted at Singaporeans who are less well-learned, or well-taught, or both. Oh, and don't forget the 20% of the population whom we called “foreign workers”.

Uncle Sha wonders why the litter issue is treated by the media as a headline news story

For me personally the topic at-hand does not have any merit to be bumped as top headline.

How about local issues such as disparity in high and low income earners, the growing number of homeless in Singapore, and such.

I know that the NEA is trying to drum up the message of us not to litter in public, but I felt the majority of such litterbugs are actually our new Foreign Talent and Foreign Workers.

Trial of tears suggests some measures to humiliate the litterbugs

a) …publish the address of litterers and legally allow the public to litter the litterer's home for a week.

b) Don't just fine litterers. Instead make them wear a huge board around their necks and stand at busy areas proclaiming their anti-social act. Also publish their identities on Facebook for everyone to see.

c) I personally like this one. Make them work in an incineration plant or food recycling plant for a week doing tasks that exposes them to the stench of rubbish. Let's see how they like the smell of what cleaners are exposed to. Better still send them to work in a plant that recycles human waste.

d) Make litterers bear the cost of cleaning up the area they litter for one year. Yes, littering is not free. There is an actual monetary cost involved.

The anti-litter campaign has generated a debate on whether foreign workers should be blamed for the pollution problem in Singapore. The discussion became more intense after the freak flood in Singapore last week with some netizens blaming foreign workers for the trash accumulation in the city. Meanwhile, foreign workers are reminding Singaporeans that the locals should not blame the influx of foreigners as the only reason why littering is getting worse.


  • John Tan

    Most litterbugs I see are our very own spoilt Singaporean youths. There seems to be a big grey area – how many times have we seen a bunch of 4-5 youths sitting at SubWay occupying two tables, eating and making a mess of the place and not bothering to put it in the trash bin after they are done? In comparison, the foreign workers I see are generally more careful about where they throw trash. It is a shame to us.

  • Meena

    I don’t think it’s fair to blame the 20% of ‘foreign workers” for the littering problem in Singapore. It’s well known, and I’ve seen proof of so-called civic minded Singaporeans driving into Malaysia and immediately begin dumping rubbish from their cars. As if the rubbish cannot sit a minute longer in their clean cars!
    These people are not well-learned, they may have been well-taught that if you litter, you pay a fine…in Singapore! Paying a fine is what deters these litter’s control that keeps them in check, not civic mindedness, sadly. And these people exist in any country.

  • Wan

    John Tan has brought out a valid point about youths. I live in Malaysia and work with children/teenagers a lot. The younger generation have absolutely no qualms about littering in my house. I believe this is not Singapore’s problem alone. Meena has also made an objective observation that we should not blame just a certain category of people.

  • Wong

    What do you think would make people want to throw rubbish into the bins and in proper areas?

    The government has this interesting projects which is a video competition with nice entries such as:

    What’s your opinion on those though?

    There are many ways to make people want to throw litter in the bins – one of which giving them reasons of their own to do it such as the feeling of civility, etiquette; or to keep the places where they tread clean since after all, it’s where they walk.

    In the picture above, it doesn’t look completely like the people don’t care anyhow – at least they throw it near the bin where it can be collectively collected.

    Singapore is still relatively clean for many areas – not sure where I’ve seen any like that in the picture, and I’m sure the cleanliness is due to how much the government is putting into it.

  • and then i said...

    While I agree with John Tan on the notion that most litterbugs are our own Singaporean youths, is it really fair to pin all the blame on youths alone? I’ve seen parents who tell their children to just leave their rubbish on the tables after eating, or generally leave/throw the rubbish on the ground. We probably should not forget who their main influence was. Furthermore, it’s not just youths who do this, but many Singaporeans in general. Some are even hypocritical enough to carry out such misdeeds and still blame the youths for it. Therefore, I feel that the “shaming” is more of a group effort rather than just caused by the youths alone.

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