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What Are Recyclable And Non-Recyclable Materials In Singapore?



Recycling has taken a pivotal seat in Singapore, especially when distinguishing between recyclable and non-recyclable materials. With a keen drive towards sustainability, understanding which items can be recycled, like aluminium cans and plastic, and those that cannot be recycled is crucial.


This differentiation not only assists in improving waste management but also underlines the nation’s commitment to a greener future.



What Are Recyclable Materials?



The prominence of recyclable materials is hard to miss. The recycling movement has witnessed a surge, deeply interwoven with the nation’s environmental commitment and progressive corporate responsibilities.

  1. Metals: These have become one of the most popular recyclable materials. A staggering fact is that once recycled, aluminium can be back on the shelf as a new can in as few as 60 days! Also, recycling one tonne of steel can save 1,136 kg of iron ore, 454 kg of coal, and 18 kg of limestone.

  2. Glass: Recycled glass is extensively used by the container and fibreglass industries, which collectively purchase 3.35 million tons of the material annually for new production.

  3. Paper: Glossy and non-glossy printed paper, along with shredded paper and envelopes with and without plastic windows, are usually accepted for recycling. Around 77% of office paper waste is recyclable, allowing it to be pulped, de-inked, and remanufactured into new paper products. This recycling process not only reduces waste but also contributes to resource conservation.

  4. Plastic: Mineral water bottles and shampoo or detergent bottles that are clean are some plastics that can be recycled in Singapore.

  5. Others: ICT Equipment, electronic waste, and rechargeable batteries are generally accepted as recyclable materials. Recycling programmes for electronics are becoming increasingly prevalent, offering drop-off points for items like old cell phones, computers, or TVs. Businesses with large volumes of electronic waste may require infrastructure such as hydraulic bin lifters for proper disposal.



What Are Non-Recyclable Materials?

Singapore’s recycling drive might be in full swing, but alongside the success stories lie some stumbling blocks. Non-recyclable materials pose a challenge, often ending up in landfill sites or being improperly discarded.

For those eager to throw just about everything into the recycling bin, it’s crucial to remember that not everything can be recyclable, including some of these materials below:

  • Metal: Whilst most metals can be recycled, the process is made trickier if they are contaminated or mixed with another material. For example, metal cutleries with wooden handles, rusty or dirty cans.

  • Glass: Similarly, not all glass products can be recycled. However, there are some types of lightbulbs that may be recycled.

  • Paper: Kitchen towels, disposable wooden cutleries and food-contaminated paper packaging such as pizza boxes should never be placed in the blue bin.

  • Plastic: There are 7 generic types of plastics under the Resin Identification Code (RIC), a system that is globally used by manufacturers when putting a label on the plastics. This helps consumers identify the kind of plastic the product is made from. Plastics that fall under type 3, 6 and 7 are refused by recycling centres in Singapore due to health, economical and environmental considerations.

Please note that these are just a few examples, and there are other materials that also pose recycling challenges. For a comprehensive list and detailed guidelines on what can and cannot be recycled in Singapore, we recommend visiting this page about, “What To Recycle.”



Conclusion On Recyclable And Non-Recyclable Materials In Singapore

The first step towards a greener future involves understanding what materials are recyclable in Singapore. Aluminium cans and certain types of plastics are generally recyclable, but not all items are fit for the recycling process.


Always look for the recycling symbol on the product packaging for a reliable guide to what can be recycled. If such information needs to be included or clarified, it's advisable to consult online resources for further guidance.


Among Semula’s initiative is the collection over 100kg of discarded plastic waste, giving these plastics a second life by transforming them into practical items.


These efforts are aligned with the principles of the circular economy, ensuring that items remain recyclable even after their transformation. We only accept HDPE (type 2) plastics, commonly found in items like bottle caps, milk jugs, and detergent and shampoo bottles.


As a reminder, it's essential to ensure that recyclable items are clean before being placed in recycling bins to prevent contamination. Food waste should never be disposed of in recycling bins, as it can spoil the entire load and disrupt the recycling process.


It's also a good idea to separate recyclables from non-recyclables at the source, meaning at the point where you initially discard the item, to improve the efficiency of the waste management system.


Contact us if you’re interested in making a contribution to environmental sustainability.

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