Bring Your Own Utensils (BYOU)

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

byouHow many disposable forks, spoons and chopsticks do you throw away each year? Let’s assume that a person throws away a pair of disposable utensils each week, which means that 104 utensils are disposed annually and if everyone in Singapore does the same, this result in the disposal of about 500,000,000 utensils in Singapore each year.

If you are using disposable utensils, you are wasting oil, cutting trees, burning waste and causing global warming. You can stop this today. Start by using your own reusable forks, spoons and chopsticks when you eat out. Bring Your Own Utensils.

To help you BYOU, we are offering reusable utensils for sale and you can choose from the different designs here.

Where Can I Find Recycling Bins?

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

recycling-bins-map1Did you know that there are more than 8,000 recycling bins in residential estates all over Singapore? Do you know where they’re located?

If you’re trying to find a recycling bin near your house, the OneMap by the Singapore Land Authority shows the locations of public recycling bins at housing estates in Singapore.

Check out the recycling bins map now!

 

Summary of Waste Issues in the Committee of Supply Debate 2009

February 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, gave his speech at the annual Committee of Supply Debate yesterday in Parliament. Here’s a summary of the waste issues covered:

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.

Source: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

Start Composting at Home

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Recycle

compostComposting is the natural decomposition of organic material (from plants and animals) by microorganisms, into a dark brown crumbly organic substance called compost.

Compost mixed with soil is beneficial for growing plants as the compost retains soil moisture, improves soil structure and provides nutrients.

There are different types of composting methods such as using a typical compost heap (outdoor or in a compost bin), using earthworms in vermicomposting, or using effective microorganisms in Bokashi composting.

Instead of throwing away your food and garden waste, which ends up being incinerated, why not try composting them at home? The compost can be used for gardening and helps you save money by reducing the use of fertilisers.

You can try composting your food and garden waste at home with these 4 easy steps:

1. Prepare a Compost Bin

You can buy a compost bin for a few hundred dollars but we recommend building one yourself. All you need is a cheap plastic bin with a lid, such as the common black dustbin or the rectangular-sized dustbin. The size of the compost bin depends on your family size, the amount of waste disposed and where you want to place it.

It is important to ensure that air can circulate freely in the compost bin as composting is an aerobic process where microorganisms require oxygen to decompose the waste. If there’s insufficient air, the process becomes anaerobic and produces gases such as methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, which causes smell problems.

To ensure good air circulation, drill small holes on the lid and at the bottom and sides of the bin. The bin should be placed at an airy spot without direct sunlight. The bin should also be elevated from the ground by placing two bricks or stones at each end of the bin bottom.

Use cardboard to line the sides in the bin to prevent material from coming out from the holes at the side. Stuff wood chips or wood shavings in a net and place it as a pillow at the bottom of the bin. This helps to prevent liquid and material from coming out from the holes at the bottom.

2. Start Adding Waste

Get fresh compost from an existing compost bin or buy them from stores. Place the compost into the bin and up to one-third of the bin. This compost acts as a starter as it contains microorganisms necessary for decomposing the waste.

compost-binThe microorganisms use carbon and nitrogen in the waste as food, so you should add a mixture of “greens” and “browns” to the compost bin.

Carbon is rich in “browns” such as dead leaves, twigs, woody prunings, wood shavings, egg boxes, cardboard, newspaper and waste paper.

Nitrogen is rich in “greens” such as fruits, vegetables, leaves, flowers, grass cuttings, eggshells, teabags and coffee grounds.

A balanced diet is necessary for the microorganisms and for making good compost. It is recommended to add about 50% “browns” and 50% “greens” to your compost bin. You can also cut the waste into smaller pieces to quicken the composting process.

Remember that you should not add meat, fish, cooked food, dairy products and oily stuff into the compost bin, as it will cause odour and pest problems.

After adding the waste to the starter compost, add water to the mixture and mix thoroughly using a spade or garden fork. The mixture should be moist and not wet.

Place another pillow net of wood chips or wood shavings on top of the mixture and close the lid. This helps to keep the moisture in the compost bin.

3. Maintain the Compost Mixture

The compost mixture generates heat as the microorganisms eat, grow and respire. So if you feel that your mixture is warm, this means that the composting process is doing fine. Mix the contents of the compost bin daily to circulate air and release heat.

Also ensure that the mixture is kept moist. A quick test is to take a handful of the mixture and squeeze it. If you get a few drops, that’s ok. But if you get too much liquid, you should add some woody or paper waste to absorb it.

If you have more waste, just add them to the mixture and mix it. Adjust the moisture content and the ratio of “browns” and “greens” accordingly.

4. Use the Compost

After about three to six months, the composting process should be completed and your food and garden waste should turn into dark brown material.

Screen your compost with a 0.5cm filter or a similar sized net. The smaller sized compost can be used for your gardening while the bigger sized compost can be kept in the bin as starter compost.

You can use the compost by mixing it with soil for growing plants. Or add a layer of compost at the plant base to prevent weeds.

That’s it, 4 easy steps to start composting at home. Ok, maybe it’s not so easy for some people. But with patience and care, everyone can produce natural compost from your food and garden waste. Try it today!

Image credit: wisemandarine (compost); Hello, I am Bruce (compost bin)

Mapping the Location of Recycling Bins in Singapore

February 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Insights

We are in the process of mapping out the location of the public recycling bins at housing estates in Singapore. The locations are obtained from the National Environment Agency (NEA) website. As there are more than 1,500 recycling bins, we are doing this in stages:

  • Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh
  • Bedok
  • City
  • Clementi
  • Hougang and Punggol
  • Jurong
  • Pasir Ris and Tampines
  • Tanglin and Bukit Merah
  • Woodlands and Yishun

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