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BACKGROUND - THE RECYCLING INDUSTRY

In Singapore , many of the consumer goods that are spoilt or have become obsolete are increasingly being discarded by the masses every other day.

In the Recycling Industry, the recycling traders are not collecting the used consumer goods anymore because there is very little commercial value in them. Since China became a WTO member and produce almost everything cheaply, there aren't many second hand buyers from third world countries coming to Singapore to purchase these used items.

For example, A 29"/32" Sony TV used to cost about $1,000 per set and the re-sale value was about $180 to $200, right now, it is worth only about $20. It is no longer commercially viable to collect the used items because the collector would need to purchase it at say $10 and so he is left with only a $10 margin. The petrol and his salary have yet to be included, worst, if the collector has a warehouse. Even if there is an oversea buyer, it may be once in a year of two, it does not make sense to keep such items for so long, incurring warehouse rentals and worst of all, cash upfront. This is applicable to any used items be it manufactured here or imported from overseas.

You may have the experience of trying to sell your used items to a Karung Guni man and have them telling you that they do not accept certain brands. You would have been informed that they are selective in collecting the used items especially if the used TV set is not belonging to any of those brands that are selling these days such as Sony, Hitachi or Pioneer. They do not want to take the Thomson TV or any items under that brand.

The bottom-line for these recycling traders is that they will not take those microwave, kettle, iron, fax machine, printer etc that they cannot sell.

Some manufacturers and importers are started to set up drop off points or recycling programmes on their own. But we need more companies to do so. There are also some bigger companies collecting waste but they are also selective in collecting the recyclable items. One main problem that these companies have encountered is the high cost in deploying workers to collect on a door-to-door basis since the members of the public do not always have a lot of recyclables to be collected.

THE MOUNTING PROBLEM

So what are we going to do with all the used items that nobody wants to collect? We will soon see a mountain of waste being pile up or otherwise send for incineration.

Presently in Singapore , we have four incineration plants. Is incineration an environmentally-friendly solution to get rid of the trash problem in the long run?

According to a newspaper report in The Star, 5 March 2003 , a Greenpeace spokesman said: "Recycling is a better option than incineration. It is a resource for new material, if you burn it, you cannot use it again. Incineration technology has improved but you must separate waste or you will produce dangerous toxins."

By visiting RPDC'S website at www.recyclingpont.com.sg , you will be able to read about the damaging effects brought about some of the toxic substances given off during incineration.

All electrical and electronic waste must be treated (dismantle hazardous parts) before incineration because they contain substances that are considered dangerous to the environment and human health if they are disposed of carelessly. Though some of the danagerous substances such as mercury, cadmium, lead, Hexavalent Chromium, Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), arsenic, PCBs, HCFCs, nickel or asbestos are usually only contained in small amounts nevertheless they have great potential for causing serious environmental damage.

After many years of hands-on experience on the ground-level, RPDC would like to introduce its own version of a one-stop solution, the Environmental Disposal Scheme (EDS). To RPDC, it is a better solution as compared to those programmes or campaigns that we have launched during the last twelve years of our existence.

We will leave it to the consumers to decide whether they will accept our offer or reject it. They can still choose to sell at whatever price they think their used items are worth or to whosoever they think has offered a better price. But when they cannot sell it, they can bring it to us for recycling and get a green rebate in return.

Currently we have no idea how many consumer goods are put into the market and how many of the used items are being disposed. Is there a way to collect these used items and keep track of them?

According to Minister Mah Bow Tan, "In an Environmental Audit (EA), a company takes stock of how its operations affect the environment and tries to minimize the effects." (ST, 28 July 1993) Therefore in the midst of collecting these used items, RPDC will also conduct an EA by 'doing a stock check'.

We will then present the data to the manufacturers and importers to propose for a joint effort to collection, tagging and arrangement for proper disposal of the products they have manufactured or imported to Singapore .

RATIONAL OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DISPOSAL SCHEME

The rationale behind the Environmental Disposal Scheme (EDS) is that when more of such end-of-life items are returned to RPDC for recycling, less trash will be flowing into the waste stream.

RPDC hopes to fulfill its mission through the four inter-related and inter-dependent components under the EDS, namely The Recycling Bank, The E-Redemption Programme, The Environmental Auditing and The Green Rebates Programme.

The Recycling Bank and the E-redemption Programme have been operational since the year 2000 and we have successful thus far to have registered about 23,000 members.

With effect from 5th December 2003, RPDC will be offering to all Singaporeans a GREEN REBATE when they deposit a used/spoilt item with us for recycling.

To the consumers, RPDC hopes that with the introduction of the Green Rebates Programme, it will motivate more people to return their used/spoilt items thus allowing us to savage more recyclable parts and preventing them from following into the waste stream.

The green rebates will be awarded to all EDS account holders in the form of recycling points when they recycle with us. Our members could redeem the points they have accumulated for cash or shopping vouchers online at our Recycling Bank portal anytime since these have no expiry dates.

Based on the items collected, we will be able to compile a set of data to show how many used items are collected for different brands and such reports will be useful to any one who wants to know exactly how much of waste have been generated or how much waste would have to be get rid off.

With the data collected, we will be able to bring to the attention of the respective manufacturers and importers some concrete numbers for consideration of an arrangement for the collection and recycling of the products that they have manufactured or imported into Singapore .

According to a newspaper article, "Where TVs, fridges are recycled", in 2001, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd took a lead to form Matsushita Eco Technology Centre Co Ltd (Metec) for the purpose of recycling electrical and electronic goods. (New Straits Times, 6 November 2002 )

Hopefully, there will be companies like what Minister Mah Bow Tan has described as going beyond the minimum specified by laws and conventions taking a lead in Singapore too. (ST, 28 July 1993)

41 CATEGORIES OF USED/SPOILT ITEMS TO BE COLLECTED

RPDC will be collecting any used item that is spoilt or beyond repair . You may return a used item from any of the 41 categories as long as they are fully intact in their original form.

The amount of green rebate to be awarded will be converted into recycling points. This is the denomination for all e-recycling banking transactions.

For a full list of the used items that you can return for a green rebate, please visit our website at www.recycling-bank.com and go to 'Points Chart'.

WHAT DO OUR MEMBERS STAND TO GAIN?

We offer FREE memberships to every one who registers for an EDS account with us. Everyone who recycles with RPDC will be awarded recycling points when they activate a collection service to collect the recyclables or used items from your homes or offices.

Our staff will update their accounts within 5 working days after the collection and the account holder can log into the system to verify the items collected and number of points earned. These points have no expiry date thus they can be accumulated to redeem for cash, shopping vouchers and insurance policy online anytime.

THE BENEFITS OF EDS

RPDC believes that through the EDS, some of the following benefits can be derived:-

  • Save our national burden and resources
  • Help to reduce waste instead of burning or using the landfills
  • A higher percentage of recovery of recyclable waste will be sorted sent for recycling
  • A higher percentage of recovery of toxic/hazardous waste will be sorted and sent for proper disposal instead of being included in the present waste stream disposal system
  • More jobs can be created to provide collection and sorting of waste on full time basis

ALL THE ACCOUNTS WILL BE CONVERTED TO AN EDS ACCOUNT

By January 2004, we will be converting all those accounts which were registered prior to the introduction of the Environmental Disposal Scheme to an EDS account at no extra charge since they have already been recycling with us.

In this way, our existing members will be able to choke up more recycling points when they are awarded the green rebate for returning their used items.

THE RECYCLING BANK

The Recycling Bank portal was launched in May 2002. It is an online e-recycling-banking application system that will host all the EDS accounts registered to recycle with RPDC.

THE RECYCLING BANK BRANCH

In order to facilitate the implementation of the EDS, we are currently in the process of setting up a Recycling Bank Branch within the HDB estate. At our branch, our members can deposit the used items for a green rebate and/or collect shopping vouchers or insurance policy redeemed at their own convenience.

THE E-REDEMPTION PROGRAMME

The e-redemption programme operates on the concept, "You get more points when you recycle more items". A certain number of recycling points will be awarded for the used items returned/deposited with us.

Our members can log in to the portal to check out the total number of recycling points accumulated and since we offer a wide range of shopping vouchers, our members will be able to pick and choose what they like and redeem those points for cash or shopping vouchers online anytime.

Each recycling point is equivalent to one cent. A total of five hundred recycling points is required for the minimum redemption of five dollars. Once you have accumulated one thousand points, you can redeem for one of the shopping vouchers which is valued at ten dollars.

THE GREEN REBATES PROGRAMME

RPDC wants to offer the green rebate as an incentive to all who are interested to recycle. By doing this, RPDC hopes that more used items will be taken off the waste stream.

RPDC will introduce a procedure to track all the used items returned so that this information will be captured and available to anyone who is interested to know about the amount of waste that have been withdrawn from the waste stream.

RPDC is doing is because we believe that it will be worth the while if all Singaporeans will choose to recycle instead of just conveniently throwing away those used items.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING (EA)

Currently the ISO certified companies are able to benefit directly from our e-recycling banking system because they can print out the account statement as part of their Environmental Auditing (EA) documentation.

According to one of our ministers, Mr Mah Bow Tan, "In an Environmental Auditing (EA), a company takes stock of how its operations affect the environment and tries to minimize the effects. Singapore companies would reap the twin rewards of profits and environmental excellence." (ST, 28 July 1993)

RPDC will set up a tracking system so that we can ascertain how much of used items/waste are actually collected for recycling as well as those for proper disposal. In this way, we could also assess the quantity or volume of consumer goods that have been manufactured or imported and placed in the market.

RPDC hopes that this will spark off a joint effort between the manufacturers, importers and all who are concerned about the environment to set up a procedure for the collection of the used items and in the process to savage more recyclable parts.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITING WILL BENEFIT ALL ACCOUNT HOLDERS

By conducting an EA for the used items returned, RPDC will be collecting concrete data that will enable the corporate account holders especially the manufacturers and importers to know exactly how much of the products that they have manufactured or imported could have been added to the waste.

At the end of the disposal process, RPDC will draw up an EA report. Manufacturers and importers could benefit from this report since this could be used as part of their reporting for their part played in being socially responsible and the contributions they have made towards the preservation of the environment.

Anyone who wants to do his/her part for the environment will be able to know by means of the statement of account the amount of waste that he/she has prevented from flowing into the waste stream to be incinerated.

WE THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING RPDC

RPDC is channeling a portion of our earnings to employ a group of handicaps to help promote crime prevention through the Crime Library Singapore portal at www.crime-library.org .

This group of handicaps has come together to form the Crime Library Production Crew so as to provide help such as p osting a message on our portal for anyone who have f amily members, relatives, loved ones or workers who are missing, who wants to appeal for witnesses for the victims of road accidents and those who have been a victim of fraud cases or have suffered unjust treatments.

Therefore by recycling with RPDC, our members will be helping to create more job opportunities for the handicaps as well as to fight crimes.

SOURCES

  • "Where TVs, fridges are recycled", New Straits Times, 6 Nov '02 .
  • "Firms lose out if they ignore environment", ST, 28 Jul '93 .
  • "Pay as you discard", The Star, 15 Jan '02 .
  • "Incineration better than recycling", The Star, 5 Mar '03 .
  • "A personal responsibility", The Star, 15 Jan '02 .
  • "More listed firms reflecting 'green' issues in annual report, ST, 10 Aug '93 .
  • "Old papers worth less now", The New Paper, 12 Jan '94 .
  • "Newspaper piling up at home", The New paper, 12 Jan '94 .
  • "Slow green impact", ST, 2 Jun '91 .
  • 10."Up to 70% of waste meant for recycling can't be used", ST, 21 Jul '02. 

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