For weeks, I have been hiding near recycling bins on Tuesday or Thursday morning to observe housekeepers at work clearing the recycling bins.

This is because the data from March to December 2010 provided by Veolia, shows that for several months, we do not find any collection in the plastic/cans bulk bins. We want to know:
– Are the housekeepers collecting the cans and plastics and not putting them in the correct recycling bulk bins
– Or is it that they are throwing away the cans and plastics as trash. (which is a big no no!)

24th May 11.57am, I secretly followed housekeeper Alice and her male staff who was clearing the recycling bins at the central forum. After they have deposited the collected recyclables at the Central Library Bin Center, I went to check out the recycling bulk bins.

One big bag of recyclables in blue recycling bulk bin

One big bag of recyclables in blue recycling bulk bin

Taking it out of the bulk bin, you will find that it is a big bag:

Compare size of recyclables bag with size of bulk bin

Compare size of recyclables bag with size of bulk bin

What happened was the recyclables are not segregated into the 2 different coloured bulk bins but all combined into one big trash bag and then just deposited into one of the recycling bulk bin.

one bag of paper and one bag of plastic found in the larger trashbags

one bag of paper and one bag of plastic found in the larger trashbags

Collected cans

Collected cans

Very little cans were collected such that they can fit into one basin

Very little cans were collected such that they can fit into one basin

We were often worried that cans are pilfered but as the above photos show: our housekeepers ( at least of Zone 2) have been diligent in collecting the cans.

All in one, the one big bag of recyclables yielded:
– 4 smaller bags of paper
– 2 smaller bags of cans
– 2 smaller bags of plastic

Summary:
– This is just one stakeout, it may not be representative of the other zones.
– Theoretically, there is no issue with the above mentioned method as Veolia still sorts out the recyclables. The paper and plastic/cans are in seperate bags and hence there is no issue of contamination of paper meant for recycling. Also being in seperate bags, it will still facilitate Veolia later in their sorting.
– It is still good for users to sort so that paper don’t get contaminated by plastic/cans and seperate bags makes the final sorting easier for Veolia.

Other thoughts:
– However, there is then no need for seperate coloured bulk bins?
– If we feel that it is worth our time and effort to solve this issue, one consideration will be to provide special bags/ containers for the housekeepers to collect the paper and the plastic/cans. When it is seperated in the process of collection. It will faciliate the final disposal as well.