Transforming Water Industry through Circular Economy Mindset

Resource-Resilience Resource Resilience

Due to the Covid-19 situation, the annual Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) is postponed to June 2021 and for the time being is held digitally through a series of webinars. This second webinar about Resource Resilience: Moving from Linear to Circular Resource Management was held on Tuesday, 7 July 2020 with experts from the Philippines, America, and Singapore discussing what resources resilience means.

In her presentation, Cindy Wallis-Lage from Black & Veatch underlined the focus to be resilient and to make sure we think in a circular fashion. She also outlined the water challenges we met today, namely drought and flood, water scarcity, energy costs, water pollution, and aging infrastructure.

These challenges could be addressed by tremendous opportunities to reuse rather than to repose. Based on the report from Black & Veatch's 2020 Water Report, more than 50% of the sample still did not familiar with the circular economy, meaning the understanding was still forming in our society.

She added that it was time to bring linear thinking into circular thinking because there was an opportunity to gain value in resources management. As a closing, Cindy pressed the importance to find the bridge in setting the agenda to start implementing circular resources management.

The following Q&A session was moderated by Cindy and joined by Jose Rene Gregory D. Almendras from Manila Water Company, Diane Taniguchi-Dennis from Clean Water Services, and Pang Chee Meng from PUB (Singapore's National Water Agency).

Rene explained that his company's motivation was to save cost and the environment before realizing that they were actually moving to the circular economy. He also mentioned that stakeholders were important and to always engaged with them and to work through the challenges like finance and technology.

Meanwhile, Diane's strategy was a watershed-based approach to improve water quality and to implement the resource recovery mindset. There were 3 areas we need to focus on, she explained, namely recovering the resources, transforming partners (working together in different ways), and regenerating natural resources (biodiversity and how to make it sustainable).

Pang Chee Meng then explained how Singapore managed the water in an integrated look. Since water scarcity was starting to become an issue, The Government of Singapore had moved toward water reuse since the last decade by maximizing what could be collected from rain and keeping the water clean for other application. He added that desalination was also on the Government's roadmap for the future.

During this session, the discussion on resource resilience continued and was summarized as below:

  • The waste product can often be a resource for other usage and by looking for collaborating, we can find new ways to reuse the waste
  • Partnership synergy is crucial to bring a pilot project to full-scale project
  • Technology is a good tool to move forward and can be used together with the stakeholders
  • Look into the community and engage with them to work together
  • The circular economy is realistic to be implemented since there is a shift in young people and the education to care more about sustainability and the water circle
  • Resources resilience needs a lot of stakeholders involved in it and we cannot do it alone, so more can be done in technology, people, and education to bring everything and everyone together.

Written by Carrina Lim (The Water Agency Indonesia)

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