Inculcating domestic recycling habits

The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the National Recycling Programme (NRP) in 2001 to provide households with a more convenient option to recycle. It complements other existing recycling channels (National recycling effort bags only 2% of domestic waste, March 1; and Do more to boost recycling, March 3).

Currently, all public housing blocks and landed premises have easy access to the blue mixed recycling bins. They relieve residents of the effort and time needed to segregate different types of recyclables - that is, paper, plastic, glass and metal products.

The collected recyclables are subsequently sorted at material recovery facilities.

To make recycling even more convenient, all new public housing developments launched since 2014 are fitted with dual chutes for refuse and recyclables. These chutes, which will be extended to new non-landed private residential developments taller than four storeys from April 1, make household recycling as convenient as refuse disposal.

The amount of recyclables collected under the NRP has been steadily rising, and accounts for 10 per cent by weight of recyclables collected from households in 2016, up from 6 per cent in 2010.

Apart from the NRP, households also recycle through other channels. They include old newspapers sold to karung guni collectors and recyclable collection exercises at community events and charities.

These activities complement the NRP and, collectively, contribute to the overall domestic recycling rate of 21 per cent.

But it is not enough to just provide recycling channels.

Everyone needs to make recycling a habit.

Information on proper recycling habits is available on NEA's website and the myENV mobile app, and "3R" videos on YouTube.

NEA also works with schools and other community partners on public education programmes to promote recycling habits at home.

Following the proper way to recycle is important. Presently, contaminated recyclables and non-recyclables make up about 40 per cent of blue bin collections.

These contaminated recyclables have to be incinerated, wasting the recycling efforts of other households.

NEA will continue to explore measures to improve domestic recycling as we work towards achieving a domestic recycling rate of 30 per cent by 2030.

Let's all do our part to help Singapore achieve the vision of becoming a Zero Waste Nation.

Ong Soo San
Director, Waste and Resource Management Department
National Environment Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'Inculcating domestic recycling habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe