We can learn about waste disposal from Singapore
Stabroek News
December 15, 2001

Dear Editor,

I would like to share some information on how a city the same size of population as Guyana and almost the same size as Georgetown and its environs, manages its solid wastes.

The city has a Solid Waste Services Division that is responsible for the management of the solid waste services provided by the city. Among the services provided are:

Solid waste collection services for all residential homes. Also provided are collection services for commercial and industrial establishments on a fee for services basis. Disposal of both residential and commercial wastes through the operation of 3 huge landfills. Additional waste management activities such as collection and disposal of household hazardous wastes, waste diversion and recycling activities for selected materials at the landfill sites, and through the city's residential recycling programmes.


However, I must point out that the success of the programmes has been achieved with the support of the citizens of the city . As a result, the city has managed to keep the level of residential waste going to the landfills about the same in the year 2000 as it was 10 years ago. It is a major achievement because in those 10 years, the population grew by more than 150,000. Also, there are very strict by laws which people obey or otherwise end up in court.

The city offers a variety of residential recycling opportunities. There are programmes for recycling newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, glass, metal cans, plastic milk jugs, leaves, Christmas trees, household chemicals, batteries, oil, propane tanks, tyres and large appliances.

Through a network of recycling depots across the city, the items mentioned previously are collected. In addition, the city operates commercial mixed paper/cardboard recycling bins.

Some examples of how recycling is done:

newspapers and magazines are de inked, pulped and turned into newsprint again.

Mixed paper and cardboard are processed into roof shingles.

Metal cans are melted down and manufactured into reinforcement bar and wire mesh.

Clear glass is beaded and mixed with road paint to give the paint a reflective look.

Coloured glass is used in making fibreglass insulation.

Plastic milk jugs are grinded to make car parts, plastic pipes, containers for oil and antifreeze and more.

Residential computers are collected separately eg the monitors, drives, laptops, keyboards, mice, cables, modems, printers and scanners.

Discarded tyres are shredded and re used to make items such as rubber bricks and playground equipment, as well as civil engineering applications in landfill design. Crumbled tyre is also used to make flooring mats for barns or truck bed liners. In a period of 3 years, a stockpile of more than 2 million tyres were removed from landfills and recycled.

Beverage manufacturers play an important role as they have to co operate to ensure that the plastic and glass bottles are recycled. Consumers pay a deposit which varies on the bottle size and the money is refunded from bottle depots where one has to carry the empties. Since plastic bottles cannot be properly sanitised for re use and they are not bio degradable in our lifetime, recycling helps the environment.

I was amazed to read in your papers that the soft drink manufacturers project sales of 2 million plastic bottles of pop per month with no one mentioning anything about recycling. Well, if no one cares to plan, one thing is for sure the plastic will not disappear into thin air. They cannot be burned in an incinerator as there would be toxic fumes.

Lastly, here are 2 good examples of attitudes and strict discipline:

When the Summer Olympics were held in the USA several years ago, Japanese fans were in an entire section to cheer their team on. After the event, the cleaners did not have any work to do because the Japanese fans carried their own garbage bags and left their section neat and tidy.

In Singapore, it is an offence to dump garbage on the streets etc. Even chewing gum is banned because it causes more headaches. Can you imagine a million people spitting out the gum and clogging up train doors, etc.

That country is outstanding for its financial and hygiene success.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Young