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:


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


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


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

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.