More being done to encourage recycling

The National Environment Agency (NEA) thanks Dr V. Subramaniam for his feedback ("Culture of waste inhibits green efforts"; March 12).

We agree that the recycling of plastic waste in Singapore still lags behind that of other waste streams, though our overall recycling rate has increased from 40 per cent in 2000 to 60 per cent in 2014.

To encourage residents to recycle, the NEA provides a blue commingled recycling bin for every Housing Board block. All four types of recyclable items (glass, metal, paper, plastic) can be deposited into a single bin.

The bins are labelled with information on what can and cannot be recycled. The recyclable items are collected at least three times a week, with more frequent collection should the bins overflow during festive seasons.

These items are taken to material recovery facilities, where they are sorted and sent to recycling facilities.

The commingled system is convenient for residents as they can place all their recyclable items in a single bag and do not need to sort them or make space in their homes to store the different types.

It also allows for a single-stream collection of recyclable items, which is a cost-effective method and practised in various United States cities, as well as in parts of Europe and Australia.

More is being done to make recycling even more convenient.

All new HDB developments launched from 2014 will be fitted with recycling chutes. The NEA is also exploring the possibility of centralised recycling chutes for private residential developments.

While we build up our recycling infrastructure, education is key in inculcating recycling habits among the public, especially the young.

The NEA works with schools to set up recycling corners, and this is complemented by Character and Citizenship Education programmes, which provide opportunities for students to understand and take action on environmental issues.

There is also a Preschool 3R Awareness Kit for educators to plan 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) activities for pre-schoolers.

For plastic waste, the key to achieving environmental sustainability is to use fewer disposables and to reuse and recycle as much as possible.

As the NEA works towards the goal of a 70 per cent recycling rate by 2030, we encourage everyone to play a part by actively practising the 3Rs and encouraging friends and family to do the same.

Ong Soo San

Director

Waste and Resource Management Department

National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'More being done to encourage recycling'. Print Edition | Subscribe