Your Guide to Becoming a Better Recycler
Recycling starts at home.
Even though our streets are usually litter-free, Singaporeans typically produce about 16 Olympic-sized pools worth of trash or a shocking 8.2 million kg of waste a day. At this rate, Singapore’s Ministry of Environment and Water Resources estimates that our only landfill will run out of space a decade earlier than predicted — by 2035. It looks like we need to become better at reducing waste pronto!
Here are some tips you can follow to up your recycling game!
1. Understand how it works
A look inside a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).
So, where does it all go? You may not have heard of the public waste collectors (PWCs), but you would have definitely seen them. They are the ones to thank for clearing the large blue recycling bins we see near our homes! Licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the PWCs provide each HDB and private estate with a recycling bin, along with a weekly collection of recyclables. They send what they collect to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to separate recyclables from non-recyclables. Paper, metal, glass and plastics are then sorted and sent to separate facilities to be broken down to form new products such as recycled paper.
As for non-recyclables, they, along with our trash, are sent to the incineration plant. Incineration decreases their volume by 90%. What’s left, such as ash and incinerable waste, gets dumped into the Semakau Landfill.
2. Know what can and cannot be recycled
To recycle or not to recycle?
The four main groups of recyclables are paper, plastic, glass and metal. Become a smart recycler by understanding what can or cannot be recycled. For example, these materials cannot go into recycling bins: used wooden chopsticks, wax paper, tissue paper, diapers; styrofoam cups, disposable cutlery, straws and melanin plates. Batteries and old or spoiled electrical products can’t be recycled as well; these materials need proper handling as they contain elements that may be harmful to the environment. Instead, take your electrical waste (e-waste) to e-waste centres.
Did you know? Electronic waste bins are available at Anchorpoint, Bedok Point, Eastpoint Mall, The Centrepoint, Waterway Point and YewTee Point.
Here are more useful tips to take note of:
Do you leave waste in your recyclables? Food leftovers contaminate other recyclables, rendering them unfit for recycling. It takes just a second - by doing so, you would have saved tonnes of recyclables being dumped into the landfill.
Did you know that packaging using mixed materials cannot be recycled? These include laminated paper, plastic-lined coffee cups and aluminium-lined potato chip bags. Segregate the items properly before heading to the recycling bins.
Do you recycle bulky paper items such as cardboard boxes and toilet rolls? It helps to flatten them before recycling.
3. Set up a recycling station at home
Get the kids in on the project!
Create a cool recycling station with your kids to inspire more recycling at home!
Pick a good location. Make it accessible to encourage the habit, so pick a convenient spot such as the kitchen, closet or storage room.
Save space and conceal. Tuck them under the kitchen sink, in an unused cabinet or lower drawers in the kitchen. Save more space by using stackable boxes.
Make it appealing. You could use similar-sized boxes, dustbins, reusable bags, laundry baskets or any plastic container and match up colours or labels.
Have your kids decorate and label each bin. Even though our recycle bins do not require sorting, it is a good habit to segregate recyclables by material.
4. Make a lifestyle change
Give your pre-loved items a second life!
It doesn’t matter how good you are at recycling if you keep producing the same (or increased) amount of waste. Think about it — do you really need all the things you’ve been keeping at home? You don’t need more space, you need less stuff! Try living minimally and you’ll find space for more important things like family, health and hobbies. Share, borrow, fix and pass it on!
Donate items you don’t need. Gather unwanted stationery, books, furniture, bags, clothes, shoes, non-perishable food items, electronic devices that can still be used, and donate them to a MINDS Shop or Salvation Army.
Consider checking out pre-loved items through Carousell or various “second hand” groups on Facebook the next time you want to buy something new; buying second-hand items reduce your carbon footprint and it’s also cheaper too!
Look for these Food Bank Singapore boxes at select malls of Frasers Property.
Did you know? From now until 31 May 2020, you can drop off excess non-perishable food items at Food Bank Singapore boxes located at the Customer Service Counters of the following malls: Anchorpoint, Bedok Point, Changi City Point, Causeway Point, Northpoint City, Robertson Walk, The Centrepoint, Valley Point, Waterway Point and YewTee Point.
As a token of appreciation, the first 6,000 Frasers Experience (FRx) members who donate 5 non-perishable food items during this period will receive 500 Frasers Points on their FRx App. For more information, please visit bit.ly/FPRfooddrive
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buy just want you need to reduce waste; use a list when you’re out shopping!
Ever heard of the 3Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? It’s a very simple concept that helps us reduce waste and is even introduced to kids at an early age through songs and jingles. Here are some ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Prepare a shopping list to reduce impulse buys.
Bring a reusable grocery bag.
Purchase items that have minimal packaging.
Opt for refillables and reuse old containers.
Cook just enough to reduce food wastage, and don’t over order if you’re dining out.
Minimise use of disposable wares.
Pack meals with reusable containers and cutlery.
Carry a pocket-sized reusable bag everywhere you go.
Of course, it’s inevitable that we will accumulate things as we move through life. The goal is to reduce the amount we accumulate by re-using what is still functional and working!
Upcycle glass bottles and turn them into a flower vase.
Reuse plastic bags for grocery shopping or lining the bins.
Turn old clothing into rags for cleaning instead of using paper towels.
Reuse scrap paper for notes instead of buying new notepads.
Repair electronics instead of buying new ones.
Reuse festive ornaments the following year.
Earth’s resources are finite, and time is slowly running out. But we can all do our part by reducing waste in our own way. Ultimately, reducing, reusing, and recycling starts at home. And we hope that with what you’ve learnt, empower your kids to champion recycling in your family, amongst friends and within the neighbourhood.
To become a zero-waste nation, we will need everyone’s involvement! Always remember, “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” — Ryunosuke Satoro.