The Potential of Large-Scale Urban Waste Recycling: A Case Study of the National Recycling Programme in Singapore

13 June, 2017

“Recycling Bin” from SRN’s SG Photobank

Is Singapore truly cultivating an environmentally conscious culture?
Every 5 June, Singaporeans participate in Eco Action Day to commemorate the United Nations Environmental Programme World Environment Day. This campaign encourages Singaporeans to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices within their workplaces and homes. Yet, do all environmental programmes really cultivate a true spirit of eco-friendliness among individuals?
In a case study on the National Recycling Programme, A/P Harvey Neo (Dept of Geography) investigates its effectiveness of fostering a waste recycling habit among housing estate residents. Recycling is made more convenient as they are encouraged to place ‘recycling bags’ outside their doorsteps for collection. An altruistic element is also introduced to encourage more participation. Neo contends that such an approach places a premium on convenience and mutes the importance of environmental values, making people less inclined to take ownership of their environment. Hence, while the intention to cultivate long-term recycling habits is laudable, careful thought should be put into how public education on environmental awareness is undertaken.
While more initiatives, such as Eco Action Day, have arisen, Neo’s study emphasizes that a proper calibration of public education should also be embedded to ensure the sustainability of these initiatives and to remind citizens of the importance of conserving the environment.

Read the full article here.