Robo-trucks on trial to collect recyclables

Two new trucks, which are loaded from the side, will be deployed in Jurong and Bukit Batok, and Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh.
Two new trucks, which are loaded from the side, will be deployed in Jurong and Bukit Batok, and Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh.ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Automated vehicles operate with just a driver and can handle bigger recycling rubbish bins

Two automated recycling trucks will ply the roads of Jurong, Bukit Batok, Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh in a move to increase collection efficiency and reduce manpower.

Yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor announced a year-long trial of the new trucks, which are loaded from the side instead of the rear and require only one worker - a driver - who uses robotic arms to lift and empty recycling bins.

Currently, it takes two workers to push a recycling bin to a truck's rear for emptying, while a driver stays in the cabin to man the vehicle.

The new trucks will visit 223 HDB blocks - 90 in the Ang Mo Kio-Toa Payoh sector and 133 blocks in the Jurong sector - which are using new, larger recycling bins that can hold three times the capacity of their predecessors.

Two waste companies will be involved the trial - 800 Super Waste Management will manage one truck in the Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh sector, while Colex Environmental will oversee a truck in Jurong and Bukit Batok.

The trial is part of the National Environment Agency's Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map, which was launched last December to innovate and make greater use of technology in the cleaning and waste management sector.

Each truck costs about $300,000 and can carry about 15 cubic m of waste.

The new trucks are also equipped with advanced equipment, such as cameras that provide drivers with a view of their surroundings, and a weighing system in the 800 Super truck that can monitor the weight of recyclables collected.

"This trial aims to improve productivity, recycling rate and efficiency of recycling trucks," said Dr Khor. "Users will also see bigger recycling bins, which will help address concerns like overflowing, if the recycling bin is full."


The larger bins also mean that the trucks have to come by less frequently to clear the waste, leading to a lower carbon footprint.

Mr Vincent Chan, 800 Super Waste Management's director, said: "If the trial goes well, we will look into expanding to other areas like Pasir Ris, Tampines and Bedok."

Bukit Batok resident Anna Chua, 39, is looking forward to the bigger, newer bins.

"Sometimes the bins are so full that things overflow, so people have to stuff things on, or even leave them at the side ."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Robo-trucks on trial to collect recyclables'. Print Edition | Subscribe