Recycling chutes on every floor at 16 BTO projects

Mr Jeremy Tan with his children Clement, seven, Kacey, nine, and Kevin, two, at the recycling chute outside their flat in Punggol. Mr Tan says they can recycle up to several times a day as it is convenient to do so.

SINGAPORE - Residents will find it easier to go green, with the Housing Board expanding a plan to install a separate rubbish chute for recyclables on every floor of the block.

Nearly 100 blocks in 16 Build-to-Order (BTO) projects now have the new feature, following a pilot in Punggol and Choa Chu Kang which has yielded encouraging results.

Most of these new blocks are in Punggol, with the rest in places like Sengkang and soon-to-be- completed blocks in Dawson.

A plan to roll out the project to even more blocks might be on the cards. But it would depend on the technical feasibility and maintenance requirements, and whether HDB is able to come up with a more cost-effective and efficient design, said an HDB spokesman.

The separate recycling chute, also known as the Centralised Chute for Recyclables, was first piloted at the common area of every floor in a Choa Chu Kang block in 2006. With the system, residents need not pre-sort their recyclables - old clothes, newspapers, bottles, plastic containers and metal cans. This would be done at the sorting facility.

The chute also made it more convenient to recycle household waste. Residents could drop recyclables into the chute at any time, instead of leaving them outside their flats for collection every fortnight, or going to the nearest recycling bin farther away.

One of the first BTO projects with this feature was Treelodge@Punggol, HDB's first eco-precinct, launched in 2007.

At Treelodge, there are two chutes on each floor of every block. One for normal waste and the other for recyclables.

To stop residents from throwing wet waste into the recycling chute, it opens up only when users pull a hand lever. This is unlike the normal waste chute which uses a foot-pedal system.

According to HDB, Treelodge residents have thrown out far less than their neighbours - 40.4kg to 49.9kg per household a month, compared with 50.7kg to 77.2kg for other blocks in Punggol.

Based on data collected over a one-year period, the amount of recyclable waste collected is also about three times more compared with other housing estates of a similar size which do not have recycling chutes.

Fifteen of 20 Treelodge residents The Straits Times spoke to said they are now more inclined to recycle their household waste.

Said engineer Jeremy Tan, 37, who has three young children: "With greater convenience, we can recycle our household waste up to several times a day. By doing this with my children, I also instil good values in them."

Housewife Chai Soo Choo, 57, said it is a far better system than "saving" recyclable waste for two weeks before it gets collected by cleaning firms. "Who would bother to keep rubbish in their homes for that long?" she said.

Singapore Environment Council executive director Jose Raymond said household recycling will likely increase only if it is made easier. "While HDB's objective is to provide affordable housing, it is also important that it recognises that waste management is a national issue that needs coordination from all agencies."

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