SINGAPORE - In Yuhua, there are no rubbish trucks that go around from chute to chute, manually collecting waste at the Housing Development Board (HDB) estate.
Instead, when residents dispose their rubbish, waste gets sucked underground into a network of pipes that run over 4km. Installed at all 38 blocks within the mature estate, the waste collection system uses high-speed air suction to transport household waste to a centralised bin centre for collection.
The Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS) is one initiative launched by the HDB to promote green and sustainable living in existing neighbourhoods, with Yuhua being the first. The mature estate also received a series of eco-friendly revamps including the installation of dual bicycle racks to promote green commuting and rainwater harvesting systems to conserve water.
For its efforts, the HDB team behind the project was lauded by Ministry of National Development (MND) during a National Day Observance Ceremony. A total of 12 projects by MND agencies received the Minister's Award during a ceremony at HortPark on Wednesday.
The Yuhua project, which involved 3,200 households, was no easy feat. "It is more challenging to do it in an existing estate because you have people living there," said Dr Johnny Wong, group director for the HDB's Building and Research Institute.
Despite noise from construction sites going on for two years, the initiative was so well-received by residents that HDB has decided to implement the green measures to a second estate, Teck Ghee.
NParks was also awarded at the ceremony for inscribing Singapore Botanic Gardens as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The process took more than three years and collaboration between NParks, various agencies and non-governmental organisations.
Since its international recognition, the 157-year-old site has attracted more tourists than ever. A record 4.7 million tourists visited the attraction last year.
The world heritage status does put you on the world map," said group director of Singapore Botanic Gardens, Dr Nigel Taylor. To relieve pressure off the heritage site and spread out the visitors, the gardens will open up new educational displays in its surrounding areas.
The Minister's Award was first introduced in 2006 to recognise innovative projects from MND agencies.
Correction Note: This story has been edited for clarity.