Tzu Chi’s Recycling Efforts and Closing the Recycling Loop
The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation has been promoting recycling in Singapore since 2006. During the Tzu Chi Recycling Day, which falls on every second Sunday of the month, Tzu Chi volunteers will set up recycling points at 14 locations across the island. The volunteers encourage residents to bring their recyclable items from their houses and to help in the sorting of the items. They also spread environmental awareness among the public.
To understand more about the recycling activities by the Tzu Chi volunteers, we visited one of the recycling points located at the void deck of Blk 71 Bedok South Road last month. Mr Chong, the volunteer in-charge of the recycling point, shared with us about the recycling point.
To set up a recycling point, Tzu Chi usually get approval from and work with the Residents’ Committee (RC) in the area. They will distribute leaflets to the residents to invite them to join the Recycling Day organised on every second Sunday of the month from 8.30am to 11.30am, and to bring down their recyclable items. In the past, the volunteers went house to house to collect the recyclables but changed to a centralised collection point due to shortage of manpower.
When the residents bring their recyclables to the recycling point, they are encouraged to sort the items into different categories such as clothing; newspapers; carton boxes/colour paper; black and white paper; electrical appliances; plastics; metal, and glass. By sorting the items themselves, the residents will appreciate more about the need to recycle and also to keep their recyclables clean.
Sorting of Plastics
Detergent and Chemical Bottles
Carton Boxes and Coloured Paper
The volunteers there also help to sort the recyclables, and they sometimes bring along their family members and their children to help out too. The sorted recyclables are sold to the public waste collectors serving the area or brought back to Tzu Chi’s recycling station at their headquarters. The money collected goes to their “Seeds of Hope Bursary” programme , which helps needy students pay for their meals and transportation fees.
Seeds of Hope Bursary
At the recycling point, banners are placed to educate residents about how recycling can help to conserve resources and reduce pollution.
Metal Can Recycling
PET Bottles Recycling
Tzu Chi’s 5 Environmental Protection Concepts
There are also display of recycled products such as shirts made from plastic bottles in Taiwan (12 plastic PET bottles can be used to make 1 shirt).
Recycled PET Shirts
In 2009 through their recycling efforts, Tzu Chi collected a total of: 452,890 kg of paper; 73,568 kg of clothes; 30,195 kg of plastics; 7,367 kg of aluminium; 26,242 kg of metal; and other items, which amounts to about $140,000 going to the bursary programme.
We asked Mr Chong why he volunteered at the recycling point and he replied that it gives him joy and satisfaction when giving back and being able to help. And when more people help others, it creates a chain of cycle of love.
On what can be done to improve recycling, Mr Chong shared that we need more education and awareness on recycling – to understand why we need recycling, how to sort and recycle, and the end products of recycling. It requires the efforts of everybody and we should start from young.
We are impressed by Tzu Chi’s efforts in recycling, especially on being able to put a human face to recycling and getting residents to participate actively. Through the current National Recycling Programme, we usually place our recyclables in the recycling bag or bin, never get to meet the recycling collectors, and do not know what happens after we recycle. On the other hand, through the Tzu Chi recycling point, we can speak to volunteers on how to recycle and what to recycle, sort the recyclables ourselves, see recycled products, and understand that we are contributing to resource conservation and the money collected from the sale of the recyclables go to the needy students. This is really closing the recycling loop.
The next Tzu Chi Recycling Day is on 12 Dec, and the locations of the 14 recycling points can be found here. Visit your nearest recycling point and find out for yourselves the recycling efforts of the Tzu Chi volunteers.