Recycling gets easier with a bin at every HDB block

The NEA's move to put a bin at each block is part of a larger initiative to raise Singapore's overall recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030.
The NEA's move to put a bin at each block is part of a larger initiative to raise Singapore's overall recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2030.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Improved access set to encourage more to make it a regular habit

The list of excuses for not recycling that plastic bottle or stack of paper just got shorter - every HDB block in Singapore now has a recycling bin, completing an initiative begun three years ago.

Since 2011, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has required public waste collectors to provide one bin per block, under its new waste collection contracts, compared with one per five blocks previously.

Last month, Veolia Environmental Services started its new contract for the Tanglin-Bukit Merah area - the last remaining sector without comprehensive coverage. A spokesman confirmed that recycling bins had been installed at all the housing blocks.

Environmentalists said the expanded coverage will encourage more people to recycle - provided residents know where the bins are located.

Mr Eugene Tay, founder and director of Green Future Solutions, a non-governmental organisation that promotes environmental awareness, said some bins are in places convenient for the waste collectors but not for residents, as is the case at his block in Bedok.

"The public waste collectors should look at where most people go and the walkways they use, or perhaps place the bins somewhere near the lifts," said Mr Tay, who received an EcoFriend award from the NEA this week for his outstanding environmental contributions.

Ms Bhavani Prakash, founder of environmental website Eco Walk the Talk, suggested putting up fliers at common notice boards to explain how to sort waste items and what to put in the recycling bins.

"They should be in an easy- to-understand pictorial form," she said. "It's also important to explain why we should recycle, and what happens to the waste sent for recycling, to nudge people."

Ms Doris Koh, a 63-year-old housewife whose Queenstown block of flats recently got a bin, said it had made recycling more convenient.

"My daughter, who lives nearby, also has one on her doorstep now. Before, we had to walk quite a distance."

More than 80 per cent of Singapore's resident population live in Housing Board flats.

The NEA said waste collectors have to provide a 120-litre recycling bin at each landed property as well.

The latest milestone comes as the authorities seek ways to boost the country's overall recycling rate - from 61 per cent last year to 70 per cent by 2030.

Nearly all construction debris here is recycled, but rates for more common materials such as paper and plastics lag far behind.

Last year, slightly more than half of all paper and cardboard waste - but only 11 per cent of plastic waste - was recycled.

zengkun@sph.com.sg