What to recycle

Each bin has information on what can and cannot be recycled.
Each bin has information on what can and cannot be recycled. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Under the National Recycling Programme, public waste collectors licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) are required to provide blue recycling bins and recycling collection at all HDB estates and landed properties in Singapore.

The collection system is a commingled one where all four types of recyclables (that is, glass, metal, paper, plastic) go into a single blue recycling bin.

Each bin has information on what can and cannot be recycled. For instance, food and liquid waste should not be thrown inside as they can contaminate the recyclables and make them unsuitable for recycling. Food waste also draws pests.

Containers with liquids other than plain water should be emptied, rinsed and washed so that they do not contaminate the bin and attract pests. Boxes should be flattened where possible so that they do not take up too much space in the bin.

The recycling trucks collect from the recycling bins daily or thrice a week, depending on the sector.

The recyclables are taken to material recovery facilities where they are sorted by a semi- automated process into paper, plastics, metal and glass. Each sorted group is sent to a local or overseas recycling plant and made into new products.

Here are examples of what can and cannot be recycled:


Can recycle

• Books, magazines (glossy and non-glossy) and envelopes (with or without plastic window)

• Brochures (glossy and non-glossy) and fliers

• Carton boxes, milk and juice cartons and egg trays

• Telephone directories

Cannot recycle

• Disposable chopsticks, paper cups and plates

• Tissue and toilet paper

• Wax paper


Can recycle

• Beverage bottles, body wash and shampoo bottles

• Detergent bottles

• Plastic bags

• CDs and casings

Cannot recycle

• Takeaway food containers (made of styrofoam or PS plastics). PS plastics are represented by the number six in the triangle plastic code usually printed on the container.

• Disposable plates, bowls, cutlery and straws

• Cassette and video tapes

• Plastic film packaging for food


Can recycle

• Aerosol cans

• Aluminium trays and foil

• Biscuit, milk and food tins

• Drink, food and paint cans


Can recycle

• Beverage bottles

• Cosmetic bottles

• Glass cups and plates

• Sauce and condiment bottles

Cannot recycle

• Ceramics

• Light bulbs

• Mirrors

• Window glass

• Source: Zero Waste SG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'What to recycle'. Subscribe