Budget 2018 debate

National recycling effort bags only 2% of domestic waste

Since 2014, every HDB block has been provided with a blue recycling bin - up from one bin for every five blocks. That year, the Government also announced that all new public housing projects will be fitted with recycling chutes with throw points on e
Since 2014, every HDB block has been provided with a blue recycling bin - up from one bin for every five blocks. That year, the Government also announced that all new public housing projects will be fitted with recycling chutes with throw points on each floor.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Since 2014, every HDB block has been provided with a blue recycling bin - up from one bin for every five blocks. That year, the Government also announced that all new public housing projects will be fitted with recycling chutes with throw points on e
Dr Amy Khor

Amy Khor says her ministry is looking at how it can improve the recycling rate

A national recycling effort collected just 2 per cent of the total amount of waste generated by the domestic sector in 2016, falling far behind other waste collection efforts.

The informal recycling sector, which includes rag-and-bone men, for instance, collected almost nine times more.

The figure was derived from calculations done by The Straits Times, after Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor yesterday revealed figures for the National Recycling Programme in Parliament - the first time such data was revealed publicly.

She was responding to a question from Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked for the cost and tonnage of recyclables collected under the National Recycling Programme.

Dr Khor said the public waste collectors collected about 44,200 tonnes of recyclables in 2016, and that the Government does not track the cost of outreach efforts under this programme, as this was usually done in tandem with other events.

The 44,200 tonnes collected by public waste collectors under the National Recycling Programme works out to about 2 per cent of the 2.1 million tonnes of waste generated by the domestic sector in 2016.

In total, only 435,600 tonnes of waste was recycled.

Recyclables from the domestic sector, which includes public and private housing estates, schools, army camps, petrol kiosks, places of worship and shophouses, are picked up by public waste collectors under the National Recycling Programme, or collected by the informal recycling sector.

RECYCLING E-WASTE

We will also use regulatory measures to complement the new recycling infrastructure. For example, we will introduce a new framework to make it easier for Singaporeans to recycle their e-waste.

DR AMY KHOR, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources.

Yesterday, Dr Khor told the House that the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources is looking at how it can improve Singapore's domestic recycling rate.

"In recent years, we have been enhancing recycling infrastructure to make it even easier for Singaporeans to recycle," she said.

For example, from April 1 this year, all new non-landed private residential developments will need to provide dual chutes for refuse and recyclables. All existing condominiums will also have to provide one recycling bin per block from Aug 1.

"We will also use regulatory measures to complement the new recycling infrastructure. For example, we will introduce a new framework to make it easier for Singaporeans to recycle their e-waste," Dr Khor added.

The new measures follow other strategies that the National Environment Agency - a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources - has already taken in hopes of boosting Singapore's lacklustre domestic recycling sector.

For example, since 2014, every HDB block has been provided with a blue recycling bin - up from one bin for every five blocks. That year, the Government also announced that all new public housing projects will be fitted with recycling chutes with throw points on each floor.

Still, the overall domestic recycling rate has hovered around 20 per cent since 2012.

In comparison, Taiwan has a household recycling rate of 55 per cent. Germany's recycling rate for municipal waste is 64 per cent and that of South Korea is 59 per cent, according to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'National recycling effort bags only 2% of domestic waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe