Recycling 101: What can you toss in the blue bin and what happens after items are collected?

The process differs for each item.

Papers are sorted and sent to a recycling facility, where they are shredded and soaked in vats to become pulp.

The pulp is then screened and refined before it is fed to a machine to form sheets of paper. The sheets are rolled and dried to make paper again.

Similarly, plastics are sent to a recycling facility. They are first sorted according to different types, then each type is crushed into smaller pieces and blended to form a mixture of “uniform homogenous quality”, NEA said.

This mixture is then extruded – a process in which it is melted and passed through a screen to form strands. After it’s cooled, the plastic strands are cut into pellets to be used as material for new plastic products.

The process for glass is a little simpler. At the recycling facility, they are sorted by colour, cleaned and then crushed into cullets, which are then melted to form new products.

Metals go through almost an identical process – they are sorted into ferrous (metals that contain iron) and non-ferrous before they are compacted. The compacted metals are then cut into smaller pieces and melted to be reused.

HOW OFTEN ARE RECYCLABLES COLLECTED?

Recycling bins in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates are collected at least three times a week for the 660L bins, while contents of the 1,800L and 2,200L side-loader bins are collected once a week.

At private landed properties, recyclables are collected weekly.

Condominiums and private apartments may have their own arrangements with waste collectors.

ANY TIPS FOR RECYCLING?

The first step would be to set up a recycling corner in your home, advised NEA.

Place a bin, a container or a bag next to your trash bin so that you can separate recyclables from general waste. This way, you can accumulate the recyclables easily before making a trip to the blue bin near your home. 

From next March, all households in Singapore can also collect a free home recycling box, known as the Bloobox, to hold their recyclables. It can also be folded, washed and reused.

IF NOT THE RECYCLING BIN, WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH MY ITEMS?

Recycling bins are not the only ways you can give your things a new lease of life.

If they can still be reused, consider reselling or donating them. Many organisations accept items like old clothing, shoes or toys that can be reused.

Otherwise, you can check if there are other channels where items can be recycled properly.

For example, sports shoes can be recycled into rubber granules, which can be used for sports infrastructure such as jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds.

These are collected in several places, including ActiveSG Sport centres, sporting goods department store Decathlon and selected recreation clubs.

Similarly, old clothes can be given to cash-for-trash institutions, the Salvation Army and even apparel retailers such as Uniqlo and H&M, which collect old clothes for upcycling.

You can also consider depositing your used drink bottles at reverse vending machines. Such machines may have a bigger role to play in Singapore’s push to encourage recycling when NEA’s beverage container deposit scheme is implemented in 2024.

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