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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 Singapore.
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?
After you deposit your recyclables into the blue recycling bins, they will be collected by the recycling truck and sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to be sorted into the different types, baled and sent to the respective recycling plants to be made into new products. You can watch this video to learn more about the sorting process.
7. Why doesn’t Singapore ban plastic bags or impose a levy on them?
In Singapore, 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. Given that all materials (not just plastic) have an environmental impact, a ban on plastic bags alone may inadvertently lead to the use of other materials, which may not necessarily lead to an improvement in environment outcomes. Plastic bags are also used by households to bag their waste hygienically to minimise spillage, odour and pest infestation in bins and rubbish chutes.
Nevertheless, the excessive consumption of disposables remains an issue of concern in Singapore. In January 2021, the Citizens’ Workgroup on Reducing Excessive Consumption of Disposables recommended a disposable carrier bag charge, against a backdrop of increasing public awareness of the need to reduce wasteful consumption of single-use items. After careful deliberation on the proposal, we decided to work on developing an appropriate model for a disposable carrier bag charge at supermarkets. This, along with our efforts to address the issue of disposables on multiple fronts, will encourage a mindset and behavioural shift towards a greener, more resource-conscious Singapore. The Workgroup’s recommendation report and MSE/NEA’s response report can be found at www.cgs.gov.sg/citizensworkgroup/reports.