Eco incense paper burners prove popular

Eco-friendly incense paper burners that cut down on the smoke by half have proven to be popular with residents, according to town councils.

The stainless steel low-emission burners were rolled out across the island in time for the current Hungry Ghost Festival.

The canisters, which were piloted last year, come with lids which prevent ash from flying out, and have holes to improve air flow for more efficient burning. Just 3 per cent of ash is produced with the new burners, compared to conventional open-top red metal burners.

The new burners cost $200 each and can last about two years, compared to the red burners, which last six months and cost about $50.

A spokesman for Choa Chu Kang town council, which introduced 600 of the new burners, said: "Residents - especially those living on lower levels - are generally happy, as the effects from burning has been greatly reduced."

The older version is "often a cause for unhappiness" due to "smoke and flying ash", added a Nee Soon Town Council spokesman. Around 700 of the new burners have been placed around the neighbourhood.

Other town councils which have introduced the burners include Sembawang, which set up 700 across the constituency, and Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council, which installed 260 in the months leading up to the Hungry Ghost Festival, which runs from Aug 14 to Sept 12 this year.

Marked annually by some Singaporean Chinese, it is believed that the souls of the dead roam the earth during the month.

They believe that offerings, when burned, are transported to the spirit world for their dead relatives' use, and are a way of showing respect.

A spokesman for Sembawang town council said that while residents are happy to use the new burner, some heavy users tend to prefer the traditional burners as they allow a greater volume of offerings to be burned at any one time.

According to a report in July by Nanyang Technological University scientists, air quality gets worse during the annual festival, with the concentration of certain pollutants going up by as much as 60 per cent.

Sengkang resident Tan Yong Hong, a 35-year-old software specialist, said the new model is good for neighbourliness. "It not only reduces smoke and ash, improving the air quality, but is also a more considerate method."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015, with the headline 'Eco incense paper burners prove popular'. Print Edition | Subscribe