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What Makes Singapore The Cleanest City?

For multiple consecutive years, numerous global surveys consistently rank Singapore among the cleanest cities in the world. It’s such an incredible achievement that, as a Permanent Resident (Understand more), you may be wondering about this claim. Nevertheless, simply walking through the streets of this garden city is more than enough testament to this fact. Even the most densely populated areas in our country boast some of the cleanest shared public spaces you will ever find — and this achievement certainly was not made possible without years of concerted effort from multiple fronts.


Cleanliness Begins With Education

Above all else, Singaporeans understand and value the effectiveness of education — and it’s no different when it comes to cleanliness. Numerous efforts have been made to educate every citizen on the different contributions that they could make towards keeping Singapore clean and green for many generations to come. These nationwide cleanliness campaigns were indubitably a major factor behind our truly remarkable transformation since our independence in 1965.

Perhaps the most significant one we’ve had was the Keep Singapore Clean campaign, which was launched by our former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew back in 1968. Held for the whole month of October, the campaign sought to turn Singapore into the cleanest nation in the entire South-East Asian region. This is done by instilling in citizens the importance of improving our environmental conditions and how it could positively impact our economic growth. The campaign made each and every Singaporean aware of how to keep inconsiderate littering in public spaces to a minimum. As a result, our shared public spaces are now significantly cleaner and freer from widespread litter since more citizens understand the need to keep our city clean.


Strict Laws On Cleanliness Put In Place

Yet another one of the many reasons for our high standards of cleanliness is the strict laws that have been put in place over the years. Singapore takes so much pride in these standards that our laws pertaining to cleanliness are perhaps some of the most well-known across the world. For instance, anyone caught in the act of littering our streets can be charged with a penalty of up to $1000 and Corrective Work Order (CWO). Introduced in 2012, the latter punishes and shames offenders by requiring them to sweep or pick up litter for them to understand and reflect on the amount of additional work that they have given to cleaners by littering. They would then be more inclined to dispose their waste in the bins provided, rather than thoughtlessly discard them.

In fact, we’ve placed so much priority on our country’s cleanliness that even importing chewing gum for distribution in Singapore has also been banned since 1992. It is a move that is poorly understood by many who fail to realise the potential costs that would have been incurred from attempting to eliminate used chewing gum from marring our city. Other countries spend millions just to remove used gum. This is due to the fact that, unlike most other wastes, used chewing gum tends to be much harder to clear since they tend to stick stubbornly to surfaces. Without the ban, such a hefty sum could have gone taken away money that could have been spent on other areas, such as education and the implementation of greater infrastructure.


Enforcement Of Cleanliness Laws

In Singapore, there is an established legal system based on English origins and our laws are more than mere words on paper. The authorities actively enforce laws that have been put into place here, and that extends to our city’s laws on cleanliness. National Environment Agency (NEA), the official board tasked with the maintenance of our environment, takes great pride in public cleanliness. Its tasks are so diversified that it has an entire department, referred to as the Department of Public Cleanliness (DPC), that concentrates on maintaining cleanliness in our public spaces. Department officers regularly patrol the city in plainclothes, with the responsibility of ensuring that people honour these laws.

Those caught in the act of littering our streets are rarely let off the hook by the officers and the court of law. Instead, offenders are always punished accordingly with a hefty fine as well as Corrective Work Order. This combination of deterrent and active enforcement of these laws clearly work, judging by our city’s continued cleanliness. In fact, Singapore is now home to citizens who are among the happiest in the world, partly thanks to how clean our city is. Most of the time, however, Singaporeans would hardly even need to resort to breaking any of these laws. Instead, the authorities have now made it much simpler for everyone to do their part by placing plenty of waste receptacles in convenient locations.