Singapore produces beer from wastewater, how big is its waste treatment industry?

“NEWBrew” is not an ordinary beer, it is produced from treated wastewater and recycled into drinking water.

1. Unique beers

As a product of a national project, “NEWBrew” was introduced in 2018 during a conference on water. Today, the result of cooperation between the National Water Board of Singapore (PUB) and local beer brewery Brewerkz has officially appeared on supermarket shelves and in restaurants. It is made from treated wastewater.

Mr. Chew Wei Lian, 58 years old, bought this beer from the supermarket after hearing about it. “I don’t believe this is a beer made from wastewater. I don’t see any difference having them in the fridge. I think it tastes like beer and I like beer,” Mr. Chew said.

NEWBrew is a name inspired by NEWater, a Singaporean beverage brand made from recycled water, and the initials of Brewerkz beer business. NEWater is this product that has helped improve the island’s water security.

PUB said the new beer is part of its efforts to educate Singaporeans about the importance of recycling and using water sustainably.

The idea of turning wastewater into drinking water has been met with fierce opposition. However, it has gained support over the past decade as global freshwater supplies have become increasingly strained. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that up to 2.7 billion people regularly live without water for at least 1 month every year.

Meanwhile, advanced economies such as Israel and Singapore have had to invest heavily to solve their freshwater scarcity. One of them is the technology to recycle wastewater into drinkable water. Large cities like Los Angeles and London are considering following what these two countries have done.

According to the manufacturer, wastewater will be disinfected with ultraviolet rays before undergoing a rigorous filtration process to remove polluting impurities. However, the key to success is convincing the public that once wastewater is treated, it becomes clean water.

“NEWater is perfect for brewing beer because it has a neutral taste. The mineral composition of water plays an important role in the chemical reactions of the beer brewing process,” said Mitch Gribov, Brewerks’ lead beer expert.

In fact, Singapore is not the first place in the world to use recycled wastewater to produce beer. Nya Carnegie Brewery based in Stockholm, Sweden has cooperated with Carlsberg Group and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute to launch a beer brewed from treated wastewater. Village Brewery in Canada partnered with researchers from the University of Calgary and American water technology company Xylem to produce its own beer made from recycled wastewater.

However, not everyone feels comfortable with this beer made from recycled wastewater. “There are many types of beer. If I drink, I will choose one made from regular water,” said Low Yu Chen, a 22-year-old student.

However, the objections do not reduce the appeal of this product. The first batch of NEWBrew was quickly sold out in Brewerkz restaurants. The company expects that supermarket products will run out by the end of July. However, the company is still evaluating the market to see if it decides to continue producing this product or not.

2. Singapore’s incredible recycling industry

With a population of 5.7 million people living on an area of only 726 km2 (less than ¼ the size of the capital Hanoi), Singapore is still famous around the world for its clean and green living environment. However, this is the result of a long process to preserve the island nation’s environment.

According to Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), every day, the island nation generates about 31,023 tons of waste of all kinds, of which 58% of waste is recycled, 41% is treated by burning and only 2% is discarded. taken to landfill. Meanwhile, burning trash also generates electricity, meeting 3% of the island nation’s electricity needs.

In 1979, Singapore began construction of its first waste incineration plant. Up to now, they have 4 such factories. In 1999, this country also invested nearly 650 million USD to build the first marine landfill with the ability to operate until 2045. It is called Semakau.

Semakau landfill buries waste that cannot be recycled or processed and ash after burning. After burying trash and ash, people will cover it with soil and plant trees, with the purpose of helping insects and birds to live. Currently, the Semakau landfill has become the most famous bird-watching site in Singapore.

Besides treatment, recycling of waste and wastewater is also very important in Singapore. In addition to investing in technology, Singapore also focuses on classifying and treating waste right from the source. A process called 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) aims to reduce waste in the first place, reusing and recycling as much as possible.

To reduce waste from the start, Singapore brings together companies to commit to reducing materials in packaging to limit waste and save costs. As of July 2019, there were 239 participants with 54,000 tons of packaging waste reduced. In addition, raising people’s awareness is also continuously emphasized.

With a small area and large population, treating and recycling waste and wastewater has become a vital requirement for Singapore and they have succeeded.

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