Technology killed karung guni star

Technology killed karung guni star
Dying trade: Those in the rag-and-bone trade are facing increasing competition from recycling and waste disposal firms, which are better able to cope with the rising costs of junk collection and removal.

SINGAPORE - Equipped with a rubber horn and trolley, Mr Yap pounds the pavements nearly every day in search of HDB residents willing to part with their old and unwanted items for a minimal sum.

Yelling "karung guniiii" at the top of his voice to alert residents to his arrival, the 61-year-old represents the old face of the rag-and-bone trade in Singapore.

Now, they are few and far between.

Instead, a new breed of junk collectors has emerged in the form of recycling and waste disposal firms.

One such company is Junk To Clear, which provides services to not just residences and offices but also schools, malls and even shipyards.

Armed with a website, Facebook page and ISO 14001 Environmental Management System certification, it is the firm's customers who contact it for its services and not the other way around.

For a minimum fee of $80, customers can get a quotation of how much they would need to pay by sending photos of the items online prior to engaging the firm's services.

For confidential documents, the firm will even issue a certificate of destruction to assure the customer that they have been diposed of securely. "Karung guni men collect only small items such as TV units, small home appliances and newspapers. They don't give a proper quotation for the items and invoice for documentation," said Wilson Lee, the firm's sales and client service manager.

The company also collects recyclable junk from homes and offices across the island.

No wonder, the traditional karung guni man is folding in the face of such competition. The rising cost of transportation is crushing him too.

"We can't even afford the COE, how are we going to do our business?" said Mr Yap.

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