Zerowaste is possible!

A chronicle of waste minimisation and recycling in NUS

Author: Ramanathan Ramasamy

Recycling Posters

To be blogged about

Recycling posters at Central Forum

In the recent days, people may have noticed that in certain recycle bins like in the Central Forum had an additional feature. As shown in the photo we had installed individual posters above the bins so that people understand the necessity of recycling within NUS.

The bins are placed in the corner of the central forum and we found during the Bazaars they are displaced from their original position. This poses out to be a serious problem for the public and the housekeepers.

So we designed these posters to act as a guidance for the public to throw their waste in the respective bins. Since the instructions in these posters are very clear cut and they are easily differentiated with color which helps the housekeepers to put back in their original place.

The another advantage of using the fourth generation recycle bins was that they had opening at the top which displays what type of waste should be thrown in that respective bin. (Example: The yellow color bin is for only empty cans and this is displayed in the top of the lid.)

Recycling points poster at YIH ATM corner

Recycling points poster at YIH ATM corner

Recycle bins at Science Canteen

Two set of recycle bins were installed in Science Canteen, Frontier as per the request by the staff and students of NUS. The first one is at Level 3, near the entrance as shown below. The second one is located near the tray return point. The main reason for installing it near the tray return point was to make the users throw plastic cans and paper while returning their tray. This also helps to reduce the workload of the canteen operator for segregating the waste.

Three more set of  recycle bins are proposed to be installed in the canteen and the location of these was discussed with the canteen operator. This was made possible only by the involvement of student community, so we are glad that we are receiving more requests and promise to install them as quickly as possible.

recycle bins at Level 3

recycle bins at Level 3

recycle bins near tray return point

recycle bins near tray return point

Waste Disposal Meeting at YIH on 7/12/2010

meeting at YIH Bin centre

meeting at waste dumpsite

meeting at subway of YIH

meeting at YIH

The main agenda of this meeting was to inform everyone on the waste and recycling system that we have in NUS, especially YIH. The organisations which attended the meeting are Food Junction, Old Chang Kee, Subway, Cheers, IT Coop. The meeting started around 9.15 am and the following points were discussed:

– Showing the photos of the mess and explain reasons for improper housekeeping.

– Each vendor was provided with a pamphlet about the various types of recycling bulk bins in NUS.

– All the vendors were taken to the bin centre at YIH. Together, we shared about the current system as well as invited opinions on how to improve things.

– Proper recycling procedures (like those existing in other canteen such as Engineering canteen) were shown to the canteen vendors to show that a proper recycling system is possible if everyone works together.

The housekeeping supervisor also ensured that the waste collected from recycle bins do not end up in the general waste.

A proper recycling system is possible if everyone works together. YIH is especially a complicated place as it involves many outside vendors. No doubt, it will take a lot of repeated visits and checks to ensure that everyone follows the system.

Metal Cage/cupboards for Cardboard

Trash bins filled with cartons

Trash bins filled with cardboard

Recent years, the bulk bins near canteens are filled more frequently than the others. The major component in this bulkh bin are empty cardboard thrown by the food vendors. This lead to the introduction of a separate cage for placing cardboard. Some of the important features in this cage/cupboard are:

1. The height of the cage is large enough to collect two times the cardboard collected in trash bins.

2. The empty cardboard must be flattened before placing it in the cage. This ensures that the cage can accommodate  more number of cartons.

3. The cartons should be properly arranged with one door always closed.

4. All the posters are with Chinese translation and helpline number for the vendors to know what to do

We got the idea for such cages/ cupboard after paying a site visit to NTUC to see how they better cope with the large numbers of carton.

New Cages to contain cartons .

New Cages to contain cartons .

Metal Cupboards made to contain cardboards

Metal Cupboards made to contain cardboards

Flattening the cartons will allow us to put more.

Flattening the cartons will allow us to put more.

New Recycle Bins


old recycble bins


new recycble bins







The new recycle bins which have been recently installed in the bus stops in the Kent Ridge Campus. Some of the important changes made in the new recycle bins when compared to the old ones are

  1. The common round shape has been changed into D shape with straight sides. This is because the old round bins have the issue of not being aligned correctly and the labels on the body of the bins are not facing the users. When the bins have straight side, the recycling bins are always facing forward and facing the users. This is applying the concept of Poka Yoke mistake proofing. Instead of having to always remind the housekeeping staff to have the bins face forward, this design change removes this human error.
  2. The wordings in the new bin appear in horizontal manner with an eligible size compared to the old ones which are in vertical manner. This facilitates users to read the labels.
  3. The labelling in the bin is a printed directly with the body of the bins as compared to previously where we had to make the stickers seperately. .
  4. The new bins are longer (50 cm) and taller (100 cm) compared to the old ones.
  5. The new labels are “Clean paper, Empty Cans, Empty plastics”. More importantly, the new labels for trash bins will be “Non recyclables” instead of “trash” to encourage/ involve people to recycle.
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