20,000 Wishing Spheres Recycled After Marina Bay Singapore Countdown

January 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Insights

wishing spheres 1

In Oct 2009, a friend informed Zero Waste Singapore about the disposal of wishing spheres for the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown. We have seen the spheres before but never asked what happened to them after the year-end countdown party.

The Wishing Sphere Project is a significant component of the Marina Bay SINGAPORE Countdown. Members of the community are all invited to join in the project by penning their wish for the New Year on a wishing sphere. Each wishing sphere represents a hope, a belief that the New Year will bring new possibilities and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

We will mark your wish by floating the wishing spheres onto the waters of Marina Bay, our bay of hope and light. To meet the growing demand for wishing spheres as more people come onboard this meaningful annual tradition, we have doubled the number of wishing spheres to 20,000 spheres this year! – Marina Bay Singapore Countdown

We were told that after the countdown, the wishing spheres made of plastic PVC are disposed of and sent to the incineration plant. The wishing spheres have been disposed of every year – 5,500 in 2007, 10,000 in 2008 and 20,000 in 2009 (soon). This is a waste of resources and results in more carbon and dioxins emissions.

wishing spheres 2

The suggestion given by our friend was to organise a petition to get the organisers to do something about this waste. However, we feel that a different approach was needed given the short time that we had. So we decided to meet up with the organisers, Esplanade, to discuss and work towards a win-win solution for Esplanade and the environment.

We had a fruitful discussion with the Esplanade staff, where we emphasised the importance of the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (in order of sequence). Given the short timeframe, the immediate focus was to reuse and recycle the spheres for this year’s event. And to start now to explore how to reduce the waste and pollution for next year’s event.

We provided the following suggestions and contacts:

Reduce

1) Look for more environmentally friendly material

  • Residues and Resource Reclamation Centre, NTU
  • SIMTech, Sustainability and Technology Assessment
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Environment and Water Technology Centre of Innovation
  • Companies providing biodegradable plastic products

2) Cap or reduce number of spheres

Reuse

3) Reuse for art by schools and organisations

  • Didier Ng
  • Hansart

4) Give to local or foreign orphanages, children homes, NGOs

5) Reuse to make new products such as bags

  • Kare Social Enterprise, ITE College East
  • Watsan Action, Indonesia

Recycle

6) Send it to a recycling company to process into raw material

We searched for recycling contractors that collect plastic PVC waste and contacted them. We finally found a recycling contractor who was interested in collecting the spheres, and gave the contacts to Esplanade.

In Nov 2009, Esplanade decided to send the 20,000 wishing spheres for recycling after the countdown. The recycling contractor will export the plastic spheres for recycling. Recycling the plastic spheres might not be the best solution but it’s still better than sending them to the incineration plant. Kudos to the Esplanade staff for taking the first step to reduce waste and do their part for the environment.

It’s actually not that difficult to reduce your waste, sometimes it only takes the right advice and contacts. If you’re organising an event where large amounts of waste are being generated, remember the 3Rs in waste management and reduce, reuse or recycle your waste. And of course, Zero Waste Singapore is available if you need help.

Have a great 2010 and let us work towards a Zero Waste Singapore!

Images credit: Marina Bay Countdown 2009/10 – chooyutshing via Flickr; Wishing Spheres – chooyutshing via Flickr

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Comments

4 Responses to “20,000 Wishing Spheres Recycled After Marina Bay Singapore Countdown”
  1. gk ong says:

    There may be better soul searching for next year to ask the same people to write what they actually did in the past 12 months to save the environment. It may end up that there would be less floating balls and less wastage.

  2. Esther says:

    Hey there, I’m writing from the Singapore Environment Council. I chanced upon this and just wanted to say that the Esplanade approached us way before the event to ask us for help to get environmentally friendly materials for the spheres and ideas on reusing the spheres. The push for an environmentally alternative for this year’s programme really should come from the top in this case. Given the extent of human ingenuity, we certainly can do a lot more.

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