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This Earth Day, we give you some very easy tips and tricks to know about recycling

“Reduce, re-use, and recycle.” We are probably very familiar with this saying. As Singapore adopts a circular economy that seeks to minimise waste, there has been a lot of emphasis on sustainability and going green. 

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In line with its efforts to become a zero-waste nation, the Singapore government has introduced a host of recycling initiatives, encouraging people to adopt the habit of recycling in their households.

Recycling is fantastic because it gives your products a new lease of life and allows for less waste. 

However, recycling is still not as commonplace in Singapore as you’d think. According to a survey by the National Environmental Agency, only three in five households recycled regularly in 2021.

One reason for this lack of a recycling ethos among Singaporeans is likely because many people do not actually know how to recycle, what can be recycled and what to do with items that are not traditionally tossed in a recycling bin but that can be reused. 

In the spirit of Earth Day, we share some tips that will turn you into a recycling pro.

1. There are certain things you cannot recycle

One of the biggest problems Singapore faces in its drive to get more people to recycle is that many simply don’t know what they can or cannot recycle. As a result, our recycling bins are often filled with things that cannot be recycled or that are dirty which can hinder the recycling process. 

Before you toss anything into a recycling bin, check the bin label to see if your item can be recycled. You can typically recycle glass, paper, plastic and metal. 

Also, ensure that you separate reusable items such as clothes or toys from your recyclables. They can be donated but are not recyclable. 

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2. You need to clean the items you plan to recycle

Did you know that items need to be cleaned before they are recycled? That means that you should wash your soap bottles, bottled drinks, jars and containers before putting them into the recycling bin. Even a simple rinse is really all that is required.

This is so that it will not contaminate other things in the recycling bin and turn it into a trash bin.

As a result, it makes recycling cardboard food containers more complex. 

Though more takeaway meals nowadays come in recyclable corrugated cardboard boxes, most of the time, these boxes have been stained with grease and oil.

The grease and oil cannot be separated from the paper fibres during the recycling process. If your cardboard recycling bin becomes contaminated with grease or oil from the box, the entire load will be sent to the landfill.

Before placing your pizza box or other cardboard food containers in a recycling bin, ensure it is clean by tearing off the contaminated parts. An alternative would be to compost it. 

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3. You can recycle certain materials more than once

Most common items can be recycled more than once, depending on what material it is made of. Certain materials such as plastic have a short recycling lifespan. It can usually only be recycled twice before its quality diminishes to the point where it can no longer be used. 

Paper is another common material with a short lifespan and it can only be recycled four to six times before it completely loses its quality.

On the other hand, materials such as glass and aluminium can be recycled infinitely without a reduction in quality as they do not degrade over time. 

4. You can reuse or return your used product containers

As the world becomes more eco-conscious, more brands are offering customers the chance to return their empty product bottles in exchange for points, free products, discounts and more. 

Usually, returned product containers will be repurposed and recycled to form more containers.

While requirements differ depending on the brand, you will typically need to wash out your containers before you return them to the store. Some brands also require that you collect a number of empty product jars before you are eligible for the recycling programmes. 

Currently, you can find these recycling programmes by various beauty brands such as The Body Shop, Innisfree, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane and more. Be sure to find out more on their respective websites.

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5. Recycling isn’t the only way to reuse your items

Freecycling is a fairly new movement in Singapore but it functions easily: you put items that you no longer need online and give them away for free to someone who might have use for them.

Freecycling groups focusing on different items have popped up all over social media in recent years and they are a great way to give your product a new lease of life rather than just tossing it in the trash. 

You can donate items such as art supplies, baby items, plants and more via these public online groups.

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