Towards a national standard on waste management

Glenn Hansen, executive strategic advisor BPA Worldwide, on how Singapore has developed waste management guidelines and best practices for the MICE industry.

Glenn HansenLate last year I worked with Singapore Standards Council, SACEOS (Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers) and their stakeholders to develop a national document on waste management guidelines and best practices for the Singapore MICE industry. It would contribute to a certification programme to verify event companies’ compliance to sustainability metrics.

As technical writer to ‘WA 3 Sustainable MICE – Guidelines on Waste Management’, we created a set of such guidelines and best practices in the form of a Workshop Agreement (WA), a type of national standard document.

The initiative is part  of the Singapore MICE Sustainability Roadmap jointly developed by SACEOS and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in December 2022. The roadmap is guided by the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Start tracking

Specifically, the Singapore MICE industry is to start tracking waste and carbon emissions by 2023. The industry will work towards reducing waste and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 in line with the national target. The WA workshop included public and private representatives across the MICE and waste value chain and was supported by the Singapore Standards Council.

The WA includes guidelines and best practices that can be verified. It is applicable across the MICE supply chain, including event organisers, venues, contractors, food and beverage providers and exhibitors. The WA is applicable to business events with 50+ persons in attendance.

The workshop participants reviewed existing international sustainability standards and selected several for comparison. We researched the current state of waste management programmes and policies within the Singapore MICE industry and referenced standards from around the globe. Across three months, four three-hour workshops were held with 21 participants and the WA was tempered to match stakeholders’ needs and capabilities.

We considered the use of shall, should, may, and can in guidelines and best practices. Readers of any guidance document should consider the use of each verb.

  • Shallindicates a requirement. It was not used.
  • Should’ indicates a recommendation. It is used throughout the document, 180 times.
  • ​‘May’ indicates a permission. It was not used.
  • Can’ indicates a possibility or capability. It was used 26 times.


Current guidance comes in the form of ‘should’. If the WA is converted to a standard in two years, the use of ‘should’ will likely become ‘shall’ with compliance necessary to certify to the standard.

Some guidance basics, organisers and suppliers should:

  • Measure and track waste and recycling data and calculate landfill and/or incineration diversion rates of events.
  • Establish a baseline by type of waste such that performance can be measured and tracked, and realistic goals can be set.
  • Set waste reduction goals following the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle (3Rs) approach whereby reduce actions are preferred over reuse actions, and both are preferred over recycling actions.
  • Use environmentally friendly materials and follow the 3Rs with all stand build and staging.
  • Avoid use of carpet except where necessary for safety and in all cases use recyclable material.
  • Ultimately, eliminate disposable event structures and food waste.
  • Consider where waste goes after it leaves an event facility.
  • Use mobile event technology to reduce use of paper and signage.


I look forward to driving the efforts of achieving one of Singapore MICE Sustainability Roadmap targets to develop a set of sustainability standards by 2023 that the industry can readily apply and be internationally recognised by 2024.