Jurong to get five more vending machines to boost recycling

Residents can exchange plastic bottles and aluminium cans for Grab points, electricity vouchers

Alba W&H Smart City assistant sustainability manager Sandra Sajan helping a Jurong resident use the new reverse vending machine at Yuhua Food Centre yesterday. The food centre is one of five locations where the machines are being installed. All five
Alba W&H Smart City assistant sustainability manager Sandra Sajan helping a Jurong resident use the new reverse vending machine at Yuhua Food Centre yesterday. The food centre is one of five locations where the machines are being installed. All five are expected to be up by the end of this month.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Residents in Jurong will soon have more vending machines offering vouchers in exchange for plastic drink bottles and aluminium cans.

Every 40 cans or 25 bottles deposited will result in 550 Grab reward points, the equivalent of $1 off their rides or food orders.

They can also receive a $30 voucher from energy supplier Ohm to offset their bill for every 50 cans or 32 bottles deposited.

The scheme is an expansion of a programme that has seen the National Environment Agency (NEA) and F&N Foods installing 50 vending machines islandwide between October 2019 and June last year.

Speaking to reporters at Yuhua Food Centre yesterday, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said the reward system incentivises people to recycle.

"We hope to use (these vending machines) as a trial... If it is successful, we can encourage other (districts) to do so and bring recycling facilities closer to people's homes and businesses," she added.

The vending machines are being installed at five locations, including Yuhua Food Centre, Pioneer Mall and Science Centre Singapore. The remaining two locations will be announced at a later date.

All five machines are expected to be up by the end of this month, said waste management provider Alba W&H Smart City.

NEA awarded the company a seven-year waste collection contract for the Jurong sector in March last year.

Alba W&H Smart City chief executive Jakob Lambsdorff said: "Our overall goal is to raise awareness and increase recycling rates in Singapore.

"In future, we want to roll out a lot more reverse vending machines in Singapore - in the next few years, I hope."

After depositing their drink containers, users can scan a QR code displayed on the machine with a mobile app to redeem vouchers.

Ms Fu said that to get people to recycle properly, it is important to identify the right locations.

"(The location) has to be convenient, for the users as well as the collectors. Very often, the location may be good in that there is very high footfall, but it may not be easily accessible for big trucks to collect the waste, for example."

She added: "We also hope people will recycle properly, by removing the remnants and keeping the bottles clean."

Jurong resident Irene Ng, a 34-year-old housewife, used the machine for the first time at Yuhua Food Centre.

She said the machine was very easy to use.

"It's a good initiative to encourage people to recycle and I would do it again," she added.

While Ms Ng received only 80 points yesterday, she can continue recycling to combine the points to get the vouchers.

The use of such vending machines is part of a pilot to encourage recycling.

The Government is drawing on similar schemes abroad, where vending machines have proven popular, in its push for a Deposit Refund Scheme framework for Singapore.

NEA will be implementing the scheme by next year as the first phase of its approach for the management of packaging waste.

Packaging waste, including plastics, is one of Singapore's priority waste streams due to its high generation and low recycling rate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2021, with the headline 'Jurong to get five more vending machines to boost recycling'. Subscribe