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1. Why are commingled recycling bins used in Singapore?
Our co-mingled recycling system makes it cost effective for recyclables to be collected and easy for residents to recycle. Residents do not need to segregate their recyclables nor set aside additional space to store the different types of recyclables (paper, plastic, metal and glass) separately in their homes. All the recyclables can be placed in a bag and deposited into the commingled recycling bin at any time. Commingled or single stream collection of recyclables is a cost-effective method of collection practised in several US cities as well as some parts of Europe and Australia.
2. Why don’t we need to sort our recyclables in Singapore?
We want to provide households with an accessible, reliable and convenient avenue to recycle so as to encourage more households to recycle.
Items deposited in the blue bins will be collected and eventually sorted by workers at materials recovery facilities into different waste streams for recycling.
3. Where can I find my nearest recycling bin?
Blue recycling bins for comingled recyclables are placed at every block in public housing estates and are provided to every household living in landed homes. All condominiums will also have recycling bins within their estates.
To make recycling even more convenient, new public housing developments launched since 2014 are fitted with dual chutes for refuse and recyclables. The measure will also apply to new non-landed private residential development applications submitted to URA from 1 April 2018. With these chutes in place, households will find it just as convenient to recycle as to dispose of their waste.
4. How often are recyclables collected?
The recyclables in the recycling bins in HDB estates are collected thrice a week, while the private landed properties are provided with weekly collection of recyclables and garden waste collection.
Find out collection frequencies here.
5. Who collects the recyclables in my estate?
It depends on where you stay. There are four public waste collectors (PWCs) licensed by NEA and they provide recycling bins and recycling collection services to different areas of Singaore.
Refer to this map to find out who your public waste collector is
6. Are the items placed inside recycle bins really recycled? Or does they get thrown away?
Once recyclables are collected, they will be taken away to be sorted, bailed and then transported to reprocessors to be made into new products. However, 40% of materials placed inside the blue recycling bins are not suitable for recycling. These include non-recyclables as well as food and liquid waste, which contaminate other recyclables.
7. Why doesn’t Singapore ban plastic bags or impose a levy on them?
In Singapore, plastic bags are reused by households to bag their waste. This helps to minimise any public health nuisance as it helps to avoid spillage, odour and pest infestation during waste collection. Through extensive public education efforts, households are now accustomed to bag their waste before throwing it down the chute, which is key to hygienic waste disposal. These plastic bags, together with other incinerable waste, are disposed of at the waste-to-energy (WTE) plants where they are safely incinerated and energy is recovered to produce electricity. They are not sent to the landfill where they would cause environmental problems.
NEA does not advocate a ban on plastic bags, and a mandatory charge on plastic bags may result in plastic bags being substituted with other forms of single-use carrier bags, which have different sets of environmental impacts, and this may not lead to an improvement in environmental outcomes. In Singapore, a more sustainable approach is to tackle the excessive consumption of all types of disposables. NEA will continue to engage stakeholders and businesses to educate the public to use less disposables. This provides flexibility for companies to adopt their preferred approach, taking into consideration their operations and nature of business. Some retailers and food outlets have already taken the initiative to charge for disposables such as food containers. Retailers such as Miniso, Bossini and IKEA either charge for single-use plastic bags, or do not make them available entirely.