Public proposes fresh ideas to recycle right

(From left) Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor with Ms Rachel Chua, Ms Lee Peilin and Ms Lam Yimin at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources yesterday. The trio are part of the team that proposed pr
(From left) Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor with Ms Rachel Chua, Ms Lee Peilin and Ms Lam Yimin at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources yesterday. The trio are part of the team that proposed providing incentives and discounts via a mobile app to spur customers to take along their own containers for packing food from eateries, instead of using single-use plastic containers.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Reward-giving app and transparent recycling bins among proposals put forth

A mobile application that provides incentives and discounts to spur customers to take along their own containers to "tar pau", or take away, their food from eateries, instead of using single-use plastic containers.

And special transparent recycling bins that allow people to see just what they are throwing into them, with eye-level signs to remind them to clean and dry their items before binning them.

These are among the nine ideas that 45 members of the public came up with within a month, as part of a work group on "recycling right" organised by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR). The fourth and final session of the work group was held yesterday at the MEWR building in Scotts Road.

The nine teams submitted their reports in the afternoon for consideration by MEWR and the National Environment Agency.

The work group is part of a push by the Government to work hand-in-hand with the people to design and implement solutions across a range of issues and policy areas.

It is similar to a Citizens' Panel on work-life balance that will be held until Nov 9 to look at the challenges of managing work and family commitments.

Marketing manager Lee Peilin, 36, told The Straits Times that her team had proposed the development of a mobile application that gives incentives such as discounts to people who use their own containers for take-away food items.

The app would involve merchants keying in a PIN code to register users who take along their own containers instead of using single-use ones.

 
 
 
 

Ms Lee's team surveyed 22 merchants to find out if the idea would work and 84 per cent of them said they would be willing to use the app as part of their business.

"We were very heartened and encouraged that merchants were so open to the idea. We hope that a wider survey can be done to assess the app's feasibility," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Lim Chwen Liang, 55, who is semi-retired, said his team proposed the idea of transparent recycling bins to replace Singapore's current blue ones.

"We found that blue recycling bins were full of contamination, which makes whatever is in the bins unable to be recycled," he said.

His team developed a prototype of a transparent recycling bin within four weeks. This included an eye-level sign to let people know what they should or should not throw into the bin, to prevent food waste and other contaminants from entering it.

These bins will also have slots for cans and paper so that large items cannot be placed inside.

Other proposals included using community "influencers" to motivate people to recycle only clean and dried items, and introducing a deposit-and-recycle system for beverage containers.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, commended the work group on its efforts to address the challenge of convincing more Singaporeans to recycle right. "Our domestic recycling rate has stagnated at 20 per cent for a while," she said. "This is a real challenge, and we are hoping some of the ideas raised can improve the recycling rate."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Public proposes fresh ideas to recycle right'. Print Edition | Subscribe