Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Effectiveness of Singapore’s Current Single-stream Recycling Approach by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) whether there have been studies of the effectiveness of Singapore’s current single-stream recycling approach, relative to a multi-stream consumer-sorted one; (b) if so, whether the results of such studies may be shared; and (c) if not, why no such studies have been considered.
1 The recycling approach and green bin / blue bin system have been standardised in Singapore since 2011, following a review of the National Recycling Programme (NRP). All Public Waste Collectors (PWCs) were required to provide single-stream recycling bins at residential estates. This made it more convenient for residents to recycle as there was no need for households to sort their recyclables by material type. It also allowed the PWCs to optimise their operations by reducing the number of trips needed to collect recyclables which adds to the carbon footprint. PWCs which switched from source-segregated bins to the single-stream commingled bins saw an increased amount of recyclables collected.
2 We are also developing complementary consumer-sorting recycling channels. We introduced in July 2021 the nationwide e-waste management system based on the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) approach. Under the EPR scheme for e-waste, consumers are able to segregate and recycle their e-waste at more than 560 e-waste recycling points nationwide, including community centres, supermarkets, electronics stores, and government buildings. ALBA E-waste Smart Recycling (ALBA), the scheme operator, also works with Town Councils to organise quarterly collection drives at housing estates and collection of bulky e-waste. For bulky appliances, residents can use the free 1-for-1 takeback service provided by electronics retailers during delivery of new appliances, to recycle their old appliance of the same type regardless of brand.
3 NEA will be introducing a beverage container return scheme next, as the first phase of an EPR framework for packaging waste management. The scheme will encourage the recycling of beverage containers such as plastic drink bottles and metal cans, and is expected to lead to an increase in the collection and recycling of clean, separate single-streams of plastic and metal recyclables. We will progressively refine and expand the EPR schemes to increase recycling in Singapore.
4 MSE and NEA are continuously looking into ways to improve our recycling efforts. Following suggestions from the #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup convened in 2019, we have carried out pilots at Hong Kah North SMC and East Coast GRC to test out different designs of recycling bins. One of the pilots measured the effectiveness of source-segregated recyclables collection with separate compartments for glass, paper, metal, and plastic recyclables, as compared with single-stream recycling bins. Findings from the pilots will be released when ready.