Better plastic recycling system needed

I am not surprised to read that most Singaporeans do not fully understand what plastic to recycle (Inconvenience and ignorance key obstacles to recycling; Aug 31).

It is not realistic to expect consumers to study and look for different recycling bins far away from their rubbish chutes to dispose of waste. The task of disposal falls squarely on manufacturers, suppliers and municipal departments.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Environment Council (SEC) are the right organisations to invest in comprehensive collection systems for proper recycling by providing a sufficient number of bins with pictures of the categories of recyclable plastic at disposal areas.

Plastic has replaced virtually all wrapping materials, bottles and containers, and at a cheaper price.

It is human failure and lack of commitment to manage waste that has caused pollution problems, not the plastic.

We are not seeing the wood for the trees if we focus on only using fewer plastic bags and ditching plastic packaging. Instead, we should focus on sensible alternatives, like food grade paper, and implement effective recycling plants to process plastic waste.

It is unproductive to blame plastic waste for polluting the Earth when municipal departments fail to spend money to sweep it up before it reaches the sea, and while collection efforts are half-hearted and recycling plants are not sufficient.

It is worthwhile to invest in facilities that can convert plastic waste into fuel.

Europe has been working towards achieving a plastic recycling rate of up to 50 per cent. Hence NEA, SEC and non-governmental organisations need to invest heavily to raise Singapore's plastic recycling rate from 6 per cent towards the same goal.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Better plastic recycling system needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe