Did you know that Singapore’s landfill site in Pulau Semakau will reach capacity by 2035? Even if it may seem small, Singaporeans who recycle are actively making a difference in the community!
If enough of us start to consistently recycle, we can make a positive impact and get closer to reaching the national target of a 70% overall recycling rate by 2030, as expressed by National Environment Agency’s (NEA) deputy CEO Ram Bhaskar.
The good news is that, in Singapore, recycling is actually easy and accessible to many. The question is, are you doing it the right way?
Make recycling a routine at home
It really is simpler than most people think to recycle in Singapore, the National Recycling Programme uses a commingled collection system where all the recyclables go into a single blue recycling bin. And according to the NEA? Up to 56% of regular recyclers use these blue bins at least once a week.
Getting this percentage to climb higher is just a matter of making recycling more accessible at homes as a routine. For example, some people may find bringing their recyclables downstairs from their units tedious, especially if the bins are far from the lift lobby. So having a system in place makes it easier to sort and recycle items consistently, eventually leading to a sustainable recycling habit. Here are some ways to do that, plus other tips on how to be a better recycler at home.
How to recycle the right way
#1: Set a designated recycling bin at home
This can be as simple as setting up a designated recycling bin at home which can even be a simple labelled container for different types of recyclables, such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Label them clearly, and educate your family members about what can and cannot be recycled.
#2: Clean your recyclables
Between 40% of the haul from household recycle bins is found to be unfit due to contamination and increases the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Therefore it’s important to clean your recyclables before tossing them in the blue bins. Waste like leftover food and soiled materials can contaminate the recycling process, making it difficult to recycle the items effectively. By taking the time to clean and sort your recyclables, like washing plastic containers and cutting them up in smaller pieces, you can help ensure that they are appropriately processed and do not end up in landfills.
#3: Sort out the non-recyclables
Knowing what can and cannot be recycled is crucial in making sure that your recycling efforts are effective.
Some common items that cannot be recycled include plastic bags, styrofoam, contaminated paper, and certain types of plastic. On the other hand, items such as clean paper, cardboard, glass bottles, and aluminium cans are okay for recycling.
#4: Stay away from single-use items
Single-use plastic items, such as straws, cutlery, and plastic bags, are major contributors to plastic pollution. These items are used once and then discarded, and they can take hundreds of years to decompose. When plastic waste ends up in our oceans and natural environments, it can harm wildlife and ecosystems.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make a change. Simply opting for reusable alternatives can make a significant difference.
For example, replacing plastic straws with stainless steel straws can prevent hundreds of plastic straws from entering the environment. Bamboo cutlery is a great alternative to single-use plastic utensils, as it is durable and can be reused many times. And using cloth bags instead of plastic bags can help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills. By making these simple changes, you can help reduce your environmental footprint.
Donate what can’t be recycled
But while recycling is a crucial step in reducing waste, some items may not be suitable for the recycling process. Rather than throwing away these items, consider giving them a new life by donating them to organizations that can help create a more sustainable future for Singapore.
Many organizations and charities in Singapore accept donations of gently used or new items, ranging from clothing and household goods to electronics and furniture. These donated items can be repurposed, reused, or resold to those in need.
Donating also greatly benefits the community by providing much-needed resources to those who may not have access to them. To make it easier – many organizations also have extensive networks and partnerships that distribute these donated items well. In this way, you’re converting what can’t be recycled in a meaningful way – while also contributing to the social welfare and sustainability of Singapore.
As we embark on our property journeys and turn houses into homes, we want to remind everyone that our first home is the Earth. We need to commit to treating her like we would our own living rooms. Let’s all be reminded of our individual roles in reducing waste and ensuring the sustainability of the Earth.