According to the NEA, the domestic recycling rate in Singapore decreased from 17 percent in 2019 to 13 percent in 2020, while the non-domestic recycling rate decreased from 73 percent in 2019 to 68 percent in 2020.
Though recycling rates were down, the volume of waste generated also fell in Singapore. Singapore saw a reduction in overall waste generation for the fourth year since 2017, resulting in less waste being sent to Semakau Landfill. In 2020, 3 percent less waste was generated in the first half of the year compared to the second half. Waste recycled and disposed of fell by 28 percent and 5 percent respectively compared to 2019.
That’s good news, right?
Well, no. 2020 is a strange year due to the pandemic and it could be just an abnormal blip in the data. The critical thing is we are still not recycling most of our trash and, worse, most of us are doing it WRONG. The end result is, although we have the ubiquitous blue bins conveniently placed below every HDB block or inside condos, only about 50% of the trash placed in these bins actually get recycled.
We can all do so much better. I know there are so many things we should do to improve our recycling rates but I’m just focusing on the top 3 things that will effect lasting, sustainable change in our habits. It’s time to cut through the noise and bust the myth that recycling is troublesome and tough!
Trash Tip 1. Have a Recycling Bin in Your Home.
This seems obvious but having a recycling area in your home is the first and easiest way to get into the recycling mindset. Educate your whole family on what can go in it. Here’s a list and here’s an infographic from NEA. You can print it out and stick it on your bin.
Remember that recycling should be fun and rewarding so you are totally entitled to feeling superior than your peers every time you recycle something.
When you get into the habit of recycling and mastered the basics, then you can progress to Recycling: Advanced Level and taking steps like pre-washing or removing labels off the containers before recycling them. But don’t run before you can walk because that may put you off this important task.
Trash Tip 2. Recycle the Right Stuff
Look at any of the blue bins and you will see 70% of the trash that people throw in and around it aren’t really recyclable. It always pisses me off because if a batch of recyclables are tainted by bodily fluids, oils or food, it is all thrown out to our incinerators or landfills. I spent weeks collecting my recyclables only to be ruined by that piece of snot-filled tissue paper thrown in the bin.
So please, be considerate and stop being rubbish at recycling. Focus on recycling these 4 “elements”: 1. Metal (Aluminium cans), 2. Plastic (Containers & bottles), 3. Glass and 4. Paper (Newspapers & Magazines)
There are 101 things that you SHOULD NOT recycle but just remember that styrofoam, clothing, furniture and McDonald’s packaging is not acceptable. Plus, it is really unsightly.
Trash Tip 3. Reduce & Reuse, rather than Recycle
We all know it is not just one thing that can help our planet but many aspects of our life has to change. Although recycling does have its merits, for example it is one of the climate-friendly actions we can undertake personally and it reduces the extraction of virgin materials (which is 500 times more energy-intensive than recycling), it is not the best method to reduce our trash and we won’t be able to recycle our way out of this climate crisis.
In addition to recycling, reducing our usage of non-recyclable items, and also reusing our containers rather than buying new ones are small steps we should take individually. Just remember that small steps do add up and we can all work towards a more sustainable Singapore.
Leave a Reply