SINGAPORE: Can plastic toys, clothes and glass jars be recycled? If you say yes, you are not alone, but these items do not belong in a bin, authorities say.
About 60 percent of Singapore's homes recycle regularly, but many still find it difficult to identify contaminants and non-recyclables, according to surveys by the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the National Environment Agency (NEA).
The two surveys, conducted between June 2018 and February 2019, addressed different aspects of domestic recycling, the agencies said in a joint statement released on Monday (April 29).
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According to the results, the main items recycled were paper materials, such as newspapers, magazines, junk mail, leaflets and stationery.
Clothes, shoes and handbags were also among the top recycled items. However, these items must be donated – if in good condition – rather than being recycled, agencies said.
"These erroneously recycled items contribute to the high rate of contamination of the recyclables collected in the blue recycling bins," said MEWR and NEA.
Another category of items that were also regularly recycled were plastic beverage bottles, aluminum cans and beer bottles / glass wine.
"While these items can be recycled, they should be emptied and rinsed whenever possible," the agencies reminded.
The most common channel used for recycling was the blue dumpsters, with 56% of regular recyclers using the dumpsters at least once a week, the results showed.
Convenience was one of the most commonly cited reasons for those who recycled regularly, according to the MEWR survey.
NEA's research also found that this group of families felt that recycling was a "second nature" and was part of their daily routine.
67% FOOD THOUGHT CAN BE RECYCLED
Although the findings showed that respondents were generally able to identify recyclable items, they found it difficult to identify contaminants and not recyclable, said MEWR and NEA.
According to the MEWR survey, 67% of respondents felt that soggy food packaging could be recycled, while another 62% felt that glass or porcelain / ceramic cookware could be recycled.
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Other items erroneously identified as recyclable were plastic toys, absorbent paper and styrofoam.
About 60 percent of respondents also mistakenly thought that recyclables needed to be sorted by type before being deposited in recycling cans, the agencies said.
"There is no need to pre-order items that are deposited in blue recycling bins because the contents of the blue recycling bins will be transported to MRF (Material Recovery Facilities) where sorting occurs."
VERY BUSY, INCONVENIENT TO RECYCLE
As for households that did not recycle regularly, the most common reasons were related to convenience.
Some of the reasons include having few items to recycle, being too busy or tired, and not having enough space to accumulate recyclables in your homes.
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"The barriers cited by households that did not recycle regularly suggest that recycling was perceived as inconvenient and secondary to their daily routine," the agencies said.
"So helping Singaporeans see that recycling is easy and helping in the formation of habits is important in order to improve Singapore's domestic recycling rate."
In 2017, it was announced that double rubbish and recyclable kicks will be installed in all new non-grounded residential developments.
All new Build-To-Order Housing and Development Council apartments have installed recycle chutes adjacent to centralized waste collection chutes at all levels since January 2014.
This requirement has also been extended to buildings with more than four floors in all new non-urban private residential developments since April 1 of last year.
For both surveys, MEWR and NEA interviewed 2003 and 3,445 households randomly selected, respectively, through face-to-face interviews.