Avoid Disposable Items

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Reduce

Disposable items such as plastic bags, plastic cutlery and batteries are thrown away after a single use. This is a waste of resources and creates unnecessary wastage. We should try to avoid buying and using disposable items if possible.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) to Reduce the Use of Plastic Bags
  2. Avoid Disposable Plastic Containers and Cutlery
  3. Avoid Using Individually Packaged Disposable Items
  4. Use Rechargeable Batteries Instead of Normal Single-Use Batteries
  5. Skip Gift Wrapping

1. Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) to Reduce the Use of Plastic Bags

In Singapore, we use about 3 billion plastic bags a year. Plastic bags are commonly used to bag our waste for disposal. However, excess plastic bags are thrown away as waste and are also often thrown away as litter, dirtying our streets and clogging up the drains.

Plastic bags that end up in the sea may also pose a threat to marine lives. In addition, plastic bags are made from oil, thus using up this non-renewable resource.

Support the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign and bring your own reusable bags for shopping and help to reduce the need for excessive plastic bags. Avoid taking excessive plastic bags and if you have excess plastic bags, consider reusing them for bagging refuse or giving them to others.

2. Avoid Disposable Plastic Containers and Cutlery

Make an effort to have your food at the food outlets or restaurants, and avoid takeaways using disposable plastic containers. If you often need to buy food back to your home or office, consider bringing your own reusable container, cutlery and bag instead of taking the disposable ones.

In addition, you can bring your own reusable cutlery to avoid using disposable cutlery when eating at food outlets and restaurants.

If you are organising an event, use non-disposable plates, cups and cutlery for your catered food. Ask the caterer to use chinaware or glassware instead. This helps to reduce the amount of waste from paper or plastic disposables.

3. Avoid Using Individually Packaged Disposable Items

When serving hot beverages, avoid the use of disposable stirrers and individually packaged sugar, milk and creamer. Use a spoon for stirring and place the sugar and milk in reusable containers or jugs.

Avoid using individual sachets of chilli or ketchup sauce. Store the sauce in reusable bottles and dispensers instead.

Avoid disposable bottled water or plastic cups in your office or event. You can switch to reusable water bottles and reusable plastic, ceramic or glass cups for water.

4. Use Rechargeable Batteries Instead of Normal Single-Use Batteries

Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries can be reused many times and this will help to reduce the disposal of normal single-use batteries. If 5% of the local population switched to rechargeable batteries, this would prevent the annual disposal of more one million single-use batteries (assuming each person throws away five batteries a year).

Switching to rechargeable batteries also helps to save money. A pack of four AA alkaline batteries costs about $5 and can be used once, whereas a pack of four rechargeable batteries and a charger costs about $50, and the batteries can be reused about 500 to 1,000 times. If you switch to rechargeable batteries and reuse them 10 times, the purchase cost between normal and rechargeable batteries would breakeven.

5. Skip Gift Wrapping

Consider skipping gift wrapping and put the gift in a reusable bag instead. Excessive paper wrappers are a hassle and usually end up as waste. What is inside is more important.

Plastics Recycling

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Recycle

In Singapore, 832,200 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2013 and the recycling rate is 11%. Plastic waste, especially plastic bottles and containers, are usually sorted, baled and exported overseas for recycling. There are also plastic recycling companies in Singapore that sort and process plastic waste into small pellets to be used as feedstock for making plastics products.

Let’s take a closer look at plastics recycling:

1. Types of Plastics for Recycling

Plastic waste can be divided into pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic waste. Pre-consumer plastic waste are plastic scraps generated by companies during the manufacturing of products. These plastics are usually easier to recycle as they are clean and homogeneous.

Post-consumer plastic waste are generated by the consumers after use. These plastics are usually not favored by recyclers as they are difficult to collect, easily contaminated with food, and not homogeneous.

There are many types of plastics in the market. To make sorting and recycling easier, The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in the United States developed the SPI resin identification code to provide a standard marking code for consumers to identify the main types of plastics.

It is quite common to find this identification code on plastic bottles and products. There are seven types of plastic codes:

1. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) – Used for water bottles, soft drink and cooking oil bottles, and meal trays.

2. HDPE (High density polyethylene) – Used for milk and detergent bottles.

3. PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) – Used for plastic pipes, food trays, shrink wrap, and bottles.

4. LDPE (Low density polyethylene) – Used for plastic bags and bin liners.

5. PP (Polypropylene) – Used for bottle caps, margarine tubs, and meal trays.

6. PS (Polystyrene) – Used for food containers, egg cartons, vending cups, plastic cutlery, and protective packaging for electronic goods.

7. OTHER – Includes any other plastic that does not fall into the above categories.


2. Why Recycle Plastics

By recycling plastics, we reduce the environmental impacts associated with the production and disposal of plastics. The production of plastics requires significant quantities of non-renewable fossil fuels and according to Waste Online:

It is estimated that 4% of the world’s annual oil production is used as a feedstock for plastics production and an additional 3-4% during manufacture.

Plastics are non-biodegradable and takes hundreds of years to break down. When they are landfilled, they take up landfill space. When they are incinerated, they release carbon dioxide and potential toxic gases such as dioxins.

3. The Plastics Recycling Process

At the plastics recycling plant, plastic waste are sorted according to their type and colour manually, by optical sensors or by a flotation process. The sorted plastics are shredded, washed and then melted to produce strands of plastics. The strands are cut into small pellets, which are used as feedstock for making new plastics products.

Watch this animation video on the plastics recycling process from RecycleBank:


4. Recycled Plastic Products

Depending on the type of plastics, the recycled plastic pellets can be used to make a wide range of plastic products such as plastic bags, containers, trays, pipes, CD cases, garden furniture, carpets, and clothing.

5. Plastics Recycling in Singapore

In Singapore, 832,200 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2013 and the recycling rate is 11%. Pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic waste are usually collected by the plastics collectors and traders, and through the recycling programmes.

For pre-consumer plastics, there are plastic recycling companies in Singapore that sort and process these waste into small pellets to be used as feedstock for making plastics products. Pre-consumer plastic waste are also sorted and exported overseas for recycling.

Common types of post-consumer plastics that are collected include PET and HDPE bottles and containers, which are sorted, baled and exported overseas for recycling.

6. Collectors, Traders and Recycling Companies for Plastics

To find a recycling collector or someone who wants your plastic waste, check out NEA’s list of collectors and traders.

For companies, you can use the online business waste exchange, Waste is not Waste, to find someone who wants your waste.

7. What Can I Do

You can recycle plastics through the various recycling programmes at home, in school and your office, or through the public recycling bins. But before you do so, remember to Reduce and Reuse your plastic waste.