Sort recyclables at source to reduce costs

While I have no objection to the increase in waste collection fees ("Garbage collection fees to go up in 2017"; yesterday), there is room for improvement in the waste collection system.

In July 2012, the National Environment Agency (NEA) introduced a uniform fee for waste collection, whereby all households are charged the same fees regardless of the public waste collector appointed for each sector.

Under the National Recycling Programme, public waste collectors are required to provide recycling bins and recycling collection services to all households in Housing Board and landed properties, as well as private apartments/condominiums which opt into the scheme.

The blue recycling bins allow for the co-mingling of recyclables, with no option to separate plastic, metal, glass and paper. The collected recyclables are then sorted at a material recovery facility.

Even though the recyclables are collected separately from ordinary waste, contamination occurs, especially if households do not sort their rubbish diligently.

As it is not clearly stated what the "rising operating costs" cited in the increase for waste collection fees are, it would be good to encourage households to sort their recyclables at source and dispose of them into separate bins, instead of single-stream recycling. This might help towards reducing costs.

A second area of consideration would be for the NEA to introduce reverse vending machines where users get paid in exchange for empty plastic bottles.

Payment for and collection of the recycled bottles can be left to the public waste collectors.

This "recycle and reward" system might help to encourage better recycling habits in households and reduce the amount of waste collected.

Tay Yu Shan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'Sort recyclables at source to reduce costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe