Charge people for amount of non-recyclable waste discarded

Despite measures to make recycling easier, people here recycled less waste last year (Dip in amount of waste recycled last year; March 22).

Over the years, I have conscientiously recycled and would like to share my pain points and experiences.

Previously, each unit in my housing estate was given plastic bags to store waste for recycling. These bags would be collected fortnightly from our doorsteps. Later, this was replaced by collection bins downstairs near the void decks. There were separate bins for items such as paper and plastic.

But these bins were often too small to contain the recyclable waste, resulting in an overflow and making the area around the bins cluttered and unsightly.

The problem was aggravated by people who did not sort their waste or threw the waste in the wrong bins. Bins that were placed outdoors also trapped water when it rained, compounding the problem with pests and smells. This put more people off recycling.

Now, there are blue recycling bins that do not require people to sort their rubbish. But other problems continue.

Given the small size of most public houses, it is difficult to designate a space for holding the waste until it can be recycled. Many people are also clueless about what can and should be recycled. All these turn recycling into an onerous task and discourage many.

More useful approaches would be tougher national policies to curb waste generation and charging people according to the weight of non-recyclable waste they discard.

More in-depth studies should be done on how people really recycle and why they do not, before implementing more recycling programmes.

Otherwise, recycling may use more energy than it saves, and becoming a zero-waste nation will continue to be a distant dream.

Francine Chu (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'Charge people for amount of non-recyclable waste discarded'. Print Edition | Subscribe