Always wanted to recycle but didn’t know where to start? Well, reading this is step one. Better bookmark this resource…
Yup, the dream is to go zero-waste one day… soon. Sounds impossible and overwhelming? It isn’t and you shouldn’t be. It all boils down to each one us doing our bit – like recycling our rubbish, quitting single-use plastic and making small but impactful changes every single day. Like carrying our own damn reusable water bottle and shopping bag.
So you want to recycle at home? We’re psyched that you’re taking the initiative *fist bump*.
Everything you need to know about recycling in Singapore
Singapore’s National Recycling Programme makes sure every public housing complex has a recycling bin in its vicinity – the large blue ones are for recycling and the big green ones for regular household garbage. So take a walk around the block or ask around for the big blue bin – we bet it’s nearby.
But you should know, recycling is an intensive process involving random variables – from world economics to food contamination. This year, China’s ban on importing recyclable trash has created problems globally. The National Environment Agency (NEA) said to Channel News Asia that it “recognises that there may be uncertainties involved in exporting plastic waste overseas”. While Singapore and the world consider its options and alternatives, our best bet is to continue to recycle and steadily work towards a zero-waste life.
Apart from everyday waste such as plastics that are marked with the recyclable symbol, glass and paper, appliances, e-waste and batteries need to be dealt with responsibly too (don’t worry, we let you in on how to handle this).
Let’s be clear about the difference between recycling waste and giving a second life to goods you no longer need. Got unwanted outfits, furniture and stuff in good condition? Do the sustainable thing and give it away or donate it to charity. Trust us, it’s better to pass it on to someone who needs it than treat it as waste. Now, back to our recycling mission…
Purge your house of plastics
From shampoo bottles to milk jugs, from ready-to-cook spices to pre-packed produce – it’s hard not to notice all the plastic we bring home. Think you can toss it all into the recycling bin? Nope <insert dramatic plot twist music>. Those disposable plates and straws from your last house party, plastic film food packets and styrofoam takeaway containers cannot be recycled. But detergent bottles, plastic bags, body wash bottles and the likes are blue bin worthy if they’re marked with the famous triangle symbol that indicates it’s recyclable plastic, so take a second to check first! Be sure to give them a nice rinse before the toss – perfectly good recyclable things are often discarded if they’re contaminated with food and liquids.
Now you’ve noticed how much plastic you accumulate it might be a good time to start switching to eco-friendly alternatives Singapore’s eco-movement has us mighty excited – stores like The Green Collective, zero-waste grocery stores like Unpackt and Zero Ways that encourage you to bring your own containers and ethical concept stores like The Social Space that offer refill stations for cleaning products are all about the good vibes.
Get rid of glass and cans
Almost all kinds of glass bottles and metal can be saved up and left in the blue recycling bin – after a good wash, of course. From kaya jam jars to tuna tins, you can recycle them all. Ceramics (teacups, mugs), mirrors and windows ought to be disposed of in the regular green bins in your complex. What about light bulbs? Light bulbs are e-waste. They don’t belong in the blue recycling bins. Is your beauty regime turning wastefully ugly? Sort it out with these plastic-free beauty swaps.
What to do with appliances, e-waste and batteries
Confession: We love our tech. If you’re anything like us, you too might have a drawer filled with old broken gizmos and other e-waste – first-gen iPod relics, dusty PS2 console, old rechargeable batteries, frayed cables and burnt-out fluorescent light bulbs. Drop your broken phones at Singpost x Singtel’s E-Waste Recycling Programme, old Dell products at Dell’s Free Consumer Takeback Services and small household appliances at City Square Mall E-Waste Recycling Programme.
What about batteries? Singapore doesn’t have a facility to recycle alkaline batteries. But in 1992, restrictions were imposed batteries exceeded stipulated mercury content. So all batteries you’ve bought in Singapore can be discarded with regular household waste to be treated at the waste-to-energy incineration plants. As for Lithium-ion batteries, hand them over the StarHub E-Waste Recycling Programme for safe disposal. Keep this map by the National Environment Agency handy and check our guide to dealing with e-waste for all the deets.
Toss that paper
Magazines, flyers, old study books, cereal cartons, cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls – save these up for a bi-weekly trip to the blue bin in your block. But like plastic, some paper waste doesn’t belong in there – we know you don’t do this, but it has to be said that tissue paper, paper towels (swap them for washable cloths) and disposable plates and cups go into the regular green bin.
Heard of the rag-and-bone man?
Ask around for karang guni, unlicensed rag-and-bone guys or if you hear their distinctive horns on the street, flag them down. They come over to buy paper, cans, e-waste and other junk from your house and resell it to waste recycling company or secondhand dealers.
Give your furniture and home goods a second life
Are you redecorating or simply moving out? If you’ve got furniture and large appliances you no longer need, but are still in good condition, leaving it in the void deck or designated disposal area means you’re sending it straight to the incinerator.
First step? Check out our guide to giving away goods in Singapore: chances are, someone who needs it will snap it up. Our go-to Facebook group for clean living, Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore, has pulled together a comprehensive list to give away (and buy) pre-loved things. For larger, more cumbersome stuff, enlist waste removal and recycle services like Junk to Clear.
Chuck those clothes
Holding on to a closet full of outfits you never wear? All aboard the minimalist life or just spring clean (trust us, you’ll feel better). Sure you can bag and drop ‘em into the textile recycling bin. You’ll find them at H&M stores, and Green Square has a collection point at The Green Collective in One KM Mall (or can even collect from your home).
But if they’re gently used, we’d rather you go the sustainable way. Donate to charities like The Salvation Army, New2U Thrift Store, post it on Carousell or pay-it-forward on Facebook groups like Give away Singapore, Art Don’t Throw (SG) and many more. Keep an eye out for artists and upcyclers like Art Don’t Throw (SG) or take our lead and swap outfits at The Fashion Pulpit’s first retail store.