Introducing a Recycling Programme For Condominium and Private Apartment Estates

1. Solid waste in Singapore has increased six-fold over the past 30 years. At this rate of increase, we will need to build a new incineration plant every 5-7 years and a new landfill the size of Sentosa Island every 25-30 years. This is not sustainable. Singapore has therefore adopted a waste minimisation and recycling approach as a long-term solution to address the solid waste problem.
2. About half of the solid waste in Singapore comes from households and the amount is increasing with more people and rising affluence. More waste from households also means that each household has to pay more as refuse collection and disposal cost will increase with growing volume of waste produced. We need to reduce waste from households by promoting recycling.
3. The National Environment Agency (NEA) launched the National Recycling Programme (NRP) in April 2001 to HDB and landed property estates to provide the residents a convenient means to recycle waste. In the NRP, the appointed public waste collectors provide recycling bags or bins to households to put in their recyclables such as paper, metal cans, plastic and glass bottles and clothing and collect them every fortnightly on pre-determined days.
4. The NRP does not include condominiums and private apartments as these private estates have their own Management Corporations (MC) and Managing Agents (MA). The decision to provide recycling service to residents rests with the MC and the success of a recycling programme depends very much on the planning, management, monitoring and communication of MA. NEA is encouraging MC and MA to introduce recycling programme in their estates so that residents in the estates have the opportunity to participate in recycling and play their part to reduce waste.
Value-added Service to Residents
5. A recycling programme may be integrated into the waste collection contract or the cleaning contract with no additional cost to residents. An integrated waste management system has the following benefits:
• Meet the needs of 'green' residents and is viewed as a value-added service to residents
• Minimise or avoid conflicts between cleaners, waste collectors and recycling company over collection of recyclables
• Reduce the total waste output of the estate and this may lead to lower cost
• Enhance the image of the estate as one with environmentally responsible residents
Role of Managing Agents
6. The steps that an MA could take to introduce a waste recycling programme in the estates are as follows:
• Table the proposal to introduce a waste recycling programme at the meeting of MC to seek approval from MC. Seek help from NEA to prepare information paper if needed.
• Upon approval, work with waste collection company/recycling company/cleaner to prepare a recycling programme.
• Communicate to all parties (e.g. waste collector, cleaners, recycling company and residents) the new recycling programme - e.g. locations of bins, what can be put inside, who will collect, etc.
• Publicity and awareness raising to rally support of residents - e.g. circulars and/or notices and display *posters, exhibition panels to create awareness, launch ceremony, children parties and contest, etc. Seek help from NEA for posters, educational materials, etc.
• Spell out clearly to the cleaning contractor what their workers are to do or not to do, for example:
  - Ensure that recyclables put out by residents are brought to the designated collection points for collection by the recycling company.
  - Forbid the workers to remove recyclables from the estate (e.g. newspaper, drink cans, etc) and keep them for their personal gains.
  - Maintain the cleanliness of recycling bins.
  - Notify MA on any overflowing of recycling bins.
Types of Recyclable Collection Systems
7. The types of recycling programme that could be considered by MA for condominiums are as follows:
• Drop-off (i.e. depository) bin system where recycling bins are placed at strategic locations within the estate
• Door-to-door collection of recycling bags (similar to NRP system)
• Bag system with designated collection points where residents can put their recycling bags out on the scheduled day of collection.
* Posters and exhibition panels (loan without charge) can be obtained from NEA. Contact NEA's Education and Partnership Department at Tel: 67319211. Materials can be viewed at
Minimum Service Standards
8. Right from the beginning, MA and the appointed recycling company shall agree on a set of service standards for the recycling programme. These service standards should include the followings:
• Collect recyclables according to schedule (e.g. weekly or fortnightly)
• List of recyclables that residents can put into the recycling bins or bags
• Provide an agreed number and size of recycling bins or recycling bags.
• If bag system is adopted, specify the manner and schedule for the issue of bags to residents
Common Types of Recyclables Accepted For Recycling
9. The common types of recyclables acceptable for recycling and also those unacceptable for recycling are tabulated below:
Recyclable Acceptable for recycling Unacceptable for recycling
Paper Newspaper, computer printouts, writing paper, envelopes, car park coupons, company annual reports, brochures/pamphlets, magazines, directories, books, cardboard and paper packaging such as cereal boxes Paper contaminated by food waste, used tissue paper, sweet wrappers, drink cartons
Metal Cans Beverage cans e.g. soft drink cans, beer cans, Metal cans e.g. milk powder tins, food cans (after rinsing)  
Plastic bottles Mineral water bottles, soft drink bottles, juice bottles, detergent/milk containers Used styrofoam, disposable cutlery and crockery
Glass bottles Jars, wine bottles, beer bottles, drink bottles Light bulbs, window glass, porcelain, ceramic
Clothing All types of clothing  
Recommended Practice
10. It is strongly recommended that waste recycling service be incorporated into the waste collection contract or the cleaning contract to ensure that the responsibilities and obligations of all contractors are spelt out clearly. To this end, the following points could be taken into consideration for the contract:
• Provision of receptacles of appropriate design, volume and numbers (this could be omitted if the condominium management decides to purchase their own recycling bins.)
• Labelling of recycling bins with appropriate stickers
• Placement of recycling bins at strategic locations or centralised locations in the estate
• Collection of recyclables at a suitable frequency agreed by condominium management
• Monthly data collection of amount of recyclables
• Cleaning and maintenance of the recycling bins
11. If providing a recycling programme is not explicitly specified in the ongoing waste collection contract or if there is still a long period before the waste collection contracts expire, MA can contact NEA and the waste collection company to discuss the introduction of a recycling system for the estate. Other recycling companies may also be brought in if the current waste collection contractor does not have the capability to implement a recycling programme. Possible collection systems for recyclables are described in paragraph 7 above.




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