A Beginner’s Guide To Recycling In Land Scarce Singapore

04 October 2016
<p>Use them. </p>

Use them. 

We don’t usually put in much thought into trash, but here’s why you should. 


According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), more than 90% of the waste collected in Singapore is incinerated and less than 10% of it ends up in the Semakau Landfill.

At this rate, the country will need to build one new incineration plant every 10 to 15 years and one new Sentosa-sized landfill every 35 to 45 years. They are very costly to build and this is definitely not sustainable so that’s why it’s important to recycle at every chance we get.


Why recycle? 

Picture this — recycling an aluminium can and a glass bottle save 95% and 30% of the energy used to make a new one respectively, while recycling 1,000 kg of paper saves 17 trees. The numbers do add up, so imagine what can be done if we pitch in. 

The domestic recycling rate in the Singapore is at a mere 19% in 2015 and the plan is to increase it to 30% by 2030, and achieve an overall recycling rate of 70% by then. 

We have quite a long way to go. 


What can be recycled?

what can be recycled? Recycling In Land Scarce Singapore


Paper, glass, metal cans, clothes and plastic can be recycled but do note some items (such as light bulbs and window glass, ceramic and porcelain items, and cassette tapes) cannot be economically recycled.

This also applies to paper that has been contaminated with food waste, used tissue paper, candy wrappers, used styrofoam and disposable plastic cups and containers. 

So no, you cannot recycle your pizza boxes but go ahead and drop off those beer bottles into the recycling bins. Check out this handy guide for more examples of things you can set aside for the recycling bins instead of the trash cans. 


Where can I drop these items? 

Public Waste Collectors (PWC) in Singapore required to provide recycling bins and recycling collection service to all households in HDB and private landed properties. In HDB estates, you can easily spot the large blue recycling bins (pictured) — usually near the refuse chutes at the void decks. Residents in landed properties can also dispose their garden waste for recycling. 

A Beginner's Guide To Recycling In Land Scarce Singapore


Certain condominiums and private apartments (which opt into the PWC scheme) will also have them. 

Some tips on using recycling bins in Singapore 

  • You don’t need to separate recyclable items according to paper, metal, plastic, or glass.
  • Make sure the recyclable containers are empty and it wouldn’t hurt to rinse them too.
  • Do not deposit food and liquid waste and non-recyclables into recycling bins.
  • Drop the recyclable items into recycling bins instead of leaving them outside.
  • Do not dispose bulky items (such as furniture and renovation waste) at recycling bins.


You can also find recycling bins in public places (pictured) and malls so do mindful of where you throw your trash when you’re out. 

recycling bins Recycling In Land Scarce Singapore


What happens to the items after they are collected?

After the Public Waste Collector collects them from the recycling bins, these trucks go to Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to sort out the recyclables

The recyclables are dropped onto a conveyor belt and are sorted out according to the various types of plastic, glass and paper. The remaining waste passes through magnets that pick up scrap metal and aluminium respectively. Lastly, the recyclables are sent to various recycling facilities where new products will be made. Find out the recycle process each type of waste goes through here.  


For more useful tips on how to reduce waste in Singapore, check out Zero Waste SG.


By Muneerah Bee, October 2016



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