Do you know that there are 7 common types of formal and informal recycling at HDB housing estates in Singapore? If you’re staying in a HDB flat, you would likely come across or participate in one or more of those types of recycling.
Let’s take a look at the 7 common types of recycling in HDB estates:
1) National Recycling Programme (NRP)
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has implemented the National Recycling Programme (NRP) since 2001, where recycling bags or bins are given to residents living in HDB housing estates and landed properties. These recycling bags and bins are provided by the licensed recycling contractors and the recyclables are collected once every two weeks at the doorstep. Read more
Grace Chua from the Straits Times wrote an article yesterday on Recycling: Time to get our act together. She suggested some laws and improvements to increase the recycling efforts of households and businesses.
Before considering her suggestions for households, I would suggest that the National Environment Agency (NEA) explore simple and cost-effective ways to maximise the use of our existing recycling infrastructure, which often is underutilised or misused.
The National Recycling Programme (NRP) has been implemented at HDB estates and landed properties since 2001, where residents are given either recycling bags or bins for recyclables, which are collected once every 2 weeks from their doorsteps. With the NRP, households can recycle conveniently and do not even have to walk downstairs to the nearest recycling bin or walk out of their house to the chutes to recycle. Households can also make use of the recycling bins near their flats since there are one set of recycling bins for every five blocks of flats.
For households in condominiums and private apartments, they can recycle through the recycling programme at their residence as it is mandatory from 2008 for all condominiums and private apartments to put in place recycling programmes.
With the existing recycling infrastructure, the NEA should aim to maximise its usage and tweak it to increase recycling, before deciding to implement new laws, place more bins or add more separate chutes system, which is likely to increase business costs and be passed on to the residents.
To make full use of the existing recycling infrastructure, the NEA could study simple and cost-effective ways to “nudge” households and increase recycling participation. In the book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, the authors pointed out two common misconceptions on change, which we can adapt to help increase recycling.
One, “what looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity”. We need to provide crystal-clear direction to the households on the recycling programme. Some questions to ask: Are the households aware or clear about the NRP in terms of why there is a need to have the programme; how the programme works; what items can be recycled; how the collection is done; how frequent is the collection, and where the recyclables end up? Can we appoint volunteer recycling ambassadors or guides to help the residents? Can we use more mass media and social media to explain the recycling programme and spread the message?
Two, “what looks like a people problem is often a situation problem”. We need to make it easier for the households to recycle by tweaking the existing recycling infrastructure. Some questions to ask: How to make it easier for households to remember the recycling dates; identify what items can be recycled; and find the nearest recycling bin? Can we place a reminder on each rubbish bin and chute to remind residents to recycle? Can we provide data for comparing recycling performance for each estate or block? Can we use social media and smartphone apps to remind residents on their recycling collection dates? Can we place better images of recyclables on the recycling bags or bins to show clearly what items are recyclable?
The NEA should study simple and cost-effective ways before implementing new laws, bins or systems whose increased costs could be borne by the residents.
Besides recycling, it is also important to focus more on reduce and reuse. There is a sequence to the widely known 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. “Reduce” should always be practised first to minimise or prevent the waste from being generated in the beginning. Next, “Reuse” the generated waste over again for the same or different purpose. Lastly, “Recycle” the waste so that it can be processed and used as a new material. Recycling still involves energy and resources to process the used material, and should be done last.
The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, gave his speech at the annual Committee of Supply Debate yesterday in Parliament. He covered the following topics:
- Sustainable Development & Resource Efficiency
- Climate Change, Energy Efficiency & Solar Energy
- Managing Water Demand
- Enhancing Capabilities and Building Long-Term Competitiveness
- Air Quality
- Dengue & Chikungunya
- Public Cleanliness and Littering
- Hawker Centres
- Cleanliness of Food Outlets, Toilets and Waste Collection
- ABC Waters Programme & Marina Barrage
Summary of Key Issues
Given the global downturn, the ability to grow the economy in a sustainable way has become more, not less, relevant. Continuing to achieve good growth while maintaining a good environment will require first, the prudent use of natural resources, second, building capability in the environmental sector, and third, protecting our environment to ensure environmental standards do not slip, and even improve.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD) will release its report in March, including the $1 billion budget for sustainable development.
The preliminary results of the 2-year study by NEA to understand the long-term effects of climate change, indicate that Singapore’s existing infrastructure is sufficient to address the risks in the short to medium term.
The 10% Energy Challenge campaign has helped to reduce the average monthly household electricity consumption from May to August 2008 by 4% compared to the same period in 2007.
Companies are already implementing energy efficiency measures with funding such as the Design for Efficiency scheme to co-fund workshops to design energy efficient facilities, and the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies to co-fund up to 50% of the cost of energy efficient equipment or technology.
The government is taking the lead on energy efficiency and is on track to meet its goal of conducting energy audits for all government buildings with more than 15,000 square metres of air-conditioned floor area by March 2010.
NEA will implement Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for household air-conditioners and refrigerators by 2011 to remove the least efficient models (1-tick and 2-tick range) from the market.
Solar energy is still more costly than conventional grid electricity generated from fossil fuels, but prices are expected to come down as the technology matures. To build up our capabilities for future adoption when it is cost-effective to do so, we will continue to research and test-bed such new technologies.
The Four National Taps strategy provides Singapore with NEWater and desalinated water options during dry weather, thus improving the drought resilience of the water supply system. But it is still important for Singaporeans to conserve water and use it efficiently.
The domestic water consumption per person per day has decreased from 157 litres in 2007 to 156 litres in 2008.
Taps, urinals and dual-flush low capacity flushing cisterns (LCFCs) installed in new developments and existing premises undergoing renovation from July 2009 must have at least a one-tick water efficiency rating. In addition, all new domestic premises and existing ones undergoing renovation have to use dual-flush LCFCs from July 2009.
PUB is helping needy households with above average water consumption to install water-saving devices so that they can save water and cut costs.
For water efficiency projects under the Water Efficiency Fund, PUB has increased the co-funding for SMEs from 50% to 80% of the cost of qualifying projects. PUB will also help SMEs to defray part of the retrofitting costs involved in switching to NEWater, and help them reduce their water bills by providing free constant flow regulators and spray nozzles.
The participation rate in the National Recycling Programme (NRP) has increased from 15% in 2001 to 63% in 2008.
Since 2007, there are 1,600 centralized recycling bins at HDB estates and one for every five blocks of HDB flats. The average amount of recyclables collected from each set of bins increased from 65 kg per month in 2007 to 103 kg per month for 2008.
NEA targets to achieve full implementation for the mandatory provision of recycling receptacles in condominium and private apartments by the end of 2009.
Singapore’s recycling rate has improved from 40% in 2000 to 56% in 2008 and we are on track to meet the Singapore Green Plan 2012 target of 60%.
NEA will be launching a $8 million 3R Fund to co-fund new waste minimisation and recycling projects. The fund will co-fund up to 80% of qualifying costs and subject to a cap of $1 million per project.
We are aware that some developed countries have used legislation to mandate recycling. In view of the current economic downturn, we are not looking at introducing legislation in the near future as it would likely increase costs for businesses and households. However, in the longer term, we will study the use of legislation to further improve our recycling rate.
The Ministry is developing a plan to turn Semakau landfill into an Eco Park, where companies can conduct field testing of renewable and clean technologies.
Singapore continued to enjoy good air quality in 2008 with the Pollutant Standards Index in the “good” range for 96% of the year. The key pollutant levels were within the standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Authority with the exception of very fine particulate matter or PM2.5.
The Green Vehicle Rebate (GVR) Scheme will be extended by another 2 years till 31 December 2011. Through the GVR scheme, the number of green vehicles such as CNG and hybrid vehicles has increased to more than 5,400 as at end 2008. This is about 1% of the total car population.
There are now 3 CNG refuelling stations and this is expected to increase to 5 by the end of this year with the opening of stations at Serangoon North and Toh Tuck.
The number of complaints on construction noise increased from about 9,200 in 2007 to about 14,100 in 2008. This could be due to the rise in construction activities and the higher expectations from the public.
There was a 20% decline in dengue cases from about 8,800 cases in 2007 to about 7,000 in 2008. The first local transmission of chikungunya fever was detected in 2008 and a total of 718 cases were reported.
Littering remains a concern in Singapore as the number of offenders caught increased from about 4,000 in 2005 to 33,000 in 2008.
Under the ABC Waters Programme, 27 projects will be carried out across Singapore by 2012 to transform our drains, canals and reservoirs into beautiful and clean streams, rivers and lakes integrated into our neighbourhoods.
The Marina Barrage was completed last year and officially opened in October, allowing the collection of rainwater in the Marina Reservoir and serving as a lifestyle, recreational and educational destination.
We have a shared responsibility to ensure sustainable development. Companies can develop and deploy technologies and products that are more environmentally- friendly than today, and incorporate environmental considerations into their operations and procedures. Citizens must embrace a lifestyle that considers the environment and limits resource consumption in their daily lives. Government will promote sustainability by setting an example, demonstrating our commitment, and involving people.
Sustainable development is a long-term process with long-term objectives. It means focusing on the horizon, rather than quick fixes; targeting prevention now, rather than putting right later; caring for the environment as part of our choices today, rather than dealing with the consequences of neglect down the line.
Condominiums and private apartments are not covered under the National Recycling Programme (NRP). But the National Environment Agency (NEA) are working with the Managing Agents and Management Councils of the condominiums and private apartments to introduce recycling programmes. Similar to the National Recycling Programme, recycling bags would be given to residents for their recyclables or recycling bins would be placed at selected locations.
As of Dec 2007, there are 353 condominiums and private apartments with recycling programmes. Recently, the ministry has also announced that it will make it mandatory to have recycling facilities in condominiums and private apartments. This mean that soon all the residential premises (HDB estates, landed properties, condominiums and private apartments) in Singapore will have some form of recycling programme and all residents have the opportunity to recycle.
(This article was first published in SG Recycle.)
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has implemented the National Recycling Programme (NRP) since 2001, where recycling bags or bins are given to residents living in HDB housing estates and landed properties. These recycling bags and bins are provided by appointed recycling contractors and the recyclables are collected fortnightly under the NRP.
You can make use of the recycling programme to recycle items such as paper, plastic and glass bottles, metal cans and old clothing, instead of throwing them away.
In addition, there are recycling bins placed at housing estates (one set of recycling bins placed for every five blocks), and also public recycling bins placed at train stations and high traffic locations. Check out the locations of the nearest recycling bins at the NEA website.
With all these recycling programmes and facilities in place, it’s easy to recycle and there’s no more excuses not to.
Images source: NRP brochure.
(This article was first published in SG Recycle.)