Semakau Landfill Expanded to Meet Singapore’s Waste Disposal Needs

July 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Insights

An aerial view of Semakau Landfill (taken in 2011)

Since Apr 1999, Singapore’s incineration ash generated from the burning of waste at our incineration plants, and non-incinerable waste has been sent to our offshore landfill, Semakau Landfill. In 2014, only 2.3% of Singapore’s waste (or 171,000 tonnes) was sent to this landfill.

Phase I of the landfill was created by enclosing 350ha of sea space between Pulau Sakeng and Pulau Semakau with a 7km perimeter bund, followed by construction of internal bunds to convert 55% of the enclosed sea space into 11 landfill cells and other amenities. All the landfill cells in Phase I are expected to be filled up by next year. So the National Environment Agency (NEA) closed public visits and started development works in Jan 2014 for Phase II of Semakau Landfill. Read more

7 Types of Recycling at HDB Housing Estates in Singapore

January 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Insights

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.

2) Centralised Recycling Depositories (CRDs)

To complement the NRP, NEA has requested the recycling contractors to place centralised recycling depositories (CRDs) at all HDB estates, since August 2007. There will be a CRD for every 5 blocks of flats and the locations of the CRDs can be found at OneMap under the Environment – Recycling Bins theme.

3) Recycling Exchange

The recycling contractors usually organise a recycling exchange once a month by working with the Residents’ Committee (RC) to set up recycling stations for residents to exchange their recyclables for cash or food items. For example, Colex has the Cash for Trash Programme in the Jurong sector, and Veolia has the Recycling Exchange Initiative (REIT) in the Pasir Ris-Tampines, Bedok, and Tanglin-Bukit Merah sectors.

4) Tzu Chi Recycling Day

During the Tzu Chi Recycling Day, which falls on every second Sunday of the month from 8.30am to 11.30am, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers will set up recycling points at housing estates in 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.

5) School Recycling Collection

There are frequent school recycling collection initiated by students to collect newspapers and old clothing for fundraising or for charity. The students doing the recycling collection for an area usually have to work with the licensed recycling contractor who are in-charge of the NRP for that area, and sell the recyclables to them.

6) Karang Guni Recycling Collection

The traditional unlicensed karang guni man or rag-and-bone man goes from door-to-door to collect items from residents, such as newspapers, televisions, radios, and computers. The karang guni man usually pays residents for the items. The items are sold to a waste recycling company or to a secondhand dealer.

7) Informal Recycling Collection

The informal recycling collection is usually done by the unlicensed poor elderly, who go through the rubbish bins in the neighbourhood and pick up recyclables such as newspapers, carton boxes and drink cans, from the bins. They usually sell the recyclables to a waste recycling company or to a secondhand dealer.

Explore Simple and Cost-Effective Ways to Maximise the Use of Our Existing Recycling Infrastructure

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Insights

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.

An edited version was published at ST Forum Online.