Veolia recently replaced SembCorp as the recycling service provider in my neighbourhood in Clementi Street 14.
It terminated the service providing door-to-door collection of recyclables, and provided different coloured bins for paper, glass and plastic.
This will invariably discourage residents from recycling. They will likely find it is too much trouble to separate their recyclables and carry them down to the bins themselves, and prefer to simply throw them away.
This is a reflection of a larger problem.
Singapore's efforts to recycle have been dismal. We place bins to encourage recycling, but as long as we do not educate, residents will never appreciate the damaging effect of not recycling. Convenience is too attractive.
I recently returned from a two-year work stint in Taipei. There, separating one's trash is compulsory and failure to do so will result in a fine.
I observed that Taiwanese people do it because they appreciate the need to recycle. Recycling is a social habit and it is embarrassing to confess if one does not do so.
Why has Singapore lagged so far behind in this respect? Recycling seems an afterthought, or not even thought about at all.
Is it because we have always kept our city clean through fines and the effort of an army of cleaners rather than educating the populace on the benefits of hygiene and cleanliness?
We seem unable to energise ourselves to recycle without some form of legislation and a checklist of fines.
- Teo Keng Chuan
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