Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

Upgraded waste system for new private apartments

A pneumatic waste conveyance system will be mandatory in new private developments with at least 500 units.
A pneumatic waste conveyance system will be mandatory in new private developments with at least 500 units. PHOTO: ENVAC

Plans are under way to encourage private apartment dwellers to recycle more and make it easier for cleaners to collect their trash.

All new private apartment blocks with more than four storeys must soon have two waste chutes - one for recyclables and the other for trash that will be incinerated.

Developments with at least 500 housing units must also have a pneumatic waste conveyance system (PWCS), which will transport waste from rubbish chutes to a central collection area via an underground network of vacuum-type pipes.

These measures, which will kick in for developers that apply to build new apartments from April next year, were announced by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor.

MPs Faishal Ibrahim (Nee Soon GRC) and Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) spoke about Singapore's poor domestic recycling rate, and Dr Khor said yesterday the dual chutes will encourage recycling by making it more convenient.

Studies have found that households in apartments with such chutes recycle up to three times more than those in apartments which do not have such facilities.

Such systems have already sprung up in public housing. As of April last year, they were in 72 new Build-To-Order projects comprising close to 426 blocks, and will hopefully take Singapore closer to its goal of recycling 70 per cent of the waste it generates by 2030.

At present, only about 61 per cent is recycled, a figure boosted by the non-domestic sector which recycled 76 per cent of waste last year.

The domestic recycling rate stands at a mere 21 per cent. Dr Khor said such initiatives will have to go hand in hand with education.

On waste collection, Dr Khor agreed with Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Ms Cheng that current methods are "manpower intensive and unsustainable".

She said the PWCS is a more efficient, manpower-light method that will reduce pest nuisance, odours and exposed waste. It has been installed in more than 100 condominiums and the Yuhua estate, and will be in place in new Housing Board estates Tampines North and Bidadari.

The authorities will also study the feasibility of implementing it at a district level, to reap greater economies of scale.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2017, with the headline Upgraded waste system for new private apartments. Subscribe