Zerowaste is possible!

A chronicle of waste minimisation and recycling in NUS

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SMU GreenClub Is looking into recycling contamination too!

Tackling contamination too!

Tackling contamination too!

I have been going down to SMU monthly on Friday evenings for my toastmaster for more than a year now. Recently, I saw new posters above the recycling bins – looks like their student clubs are concerned about recycling contamination too!

Marcus Tay

Zone 3 walkabout on 23rd March 2010

After much delay, we have finally embarked on our zone walkabout once again:
– review the locations of current recycling bins, removing those that are not near any vending machines or eateries.
– Reviewing the locations suggested by users, adding those neccessary.
– and most interestingly, removing trash bins.

Yes, as we keep increasing the number of recycling bins at locations where one can find vending machines, we do not want to blindly increase the workload of the housekeeping staff.

Therefore, we aim to remove excess trash bins that are located within sight of each other, especially at areas where there are no high traffic flow. All in all, for Zone 3, we are removing 7 trash bins.

William did an excellant job planning the route ( see image) , combing all the current locations and suggested locations in a seamless path. Great Job!!! To do that, he had to walk one time before our actual walkabout.

Zone 3 walkabout map

Zone 3 walkabout map

Great Job, we can’t wait to finish all the zones walkabout – put in the new bins, fix up the NUS staff Club bin centre.

After that, I think we should finally finish our recycling work and it will just be maintainance work!

Marcus Tay

Campus Wide Charitable Recycling

Collection of unwanted clothes and
electronic waste was done from
24th Jan to 26th Jan at four
collection points in NUS. Response
was brisk and we collected items
ranging from old laptop computers
to mobile-phones from a decade
ago. A total of 461 kg of clothes
and 198kg of electronic waste were

Collection of unwanted clothes and electronic waste was done from 24th Jan to 26th Jan at four collection points in NUS. Response was enthusiastic and we collected items ranging from old laptop computers to mobile-phones, some which were over a decade old! A total of 461 kg of clothes and 198kg of electronic waste were collected.



We thank everyone who has contributed to this project :). We request you to continue supporting us in our future endeavorers .

Alternative Collection Points for Charitable Recycling

To all Zerowaste members, congrats to the completion of our Campus-Wide Charitable Recycling! And thank you every participant for bringing down your recyclables to our booths for donation! A post-event write-up of the project will be posted soon. 🙂

However, I have also received feedback that quite a number of people missed the time that we set for this round of collection. Due to manpower constrain and some logistics matters, we are sorry that we are unable to extend the collection period or hold another round of collection in NUS so soon.

Nonetheless, you may wish to bring down your recyclables to the collection points of our collaborator, South West Community Development Council on the first Sunday of the month. (except weekly Hong Kah North collection points)  Thanks!


And we will also be doing another round of small-scale collection in PGPR targeted at PGPR residents at the end of the semester after the exam week by integrating with PGPR RA’s pass-it-on program. Thus, if you miss this round of campus-wide collection, you may check our blog for further updates on the next PGPR collection and drop your unwanted items at our collection points in PGPR! 🙂

Charitable Recycling

Charitable Recycling is a collaboration between NUSSU SAVE Zer0Waste and South West Community Development Council (SWCDC). The idea was mooted to take add more ‘flavor’ to the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – that is, charity. With this, the community practices both conservation of natural resources and helping the needy, with just 1 simple act – recycling.

This initiative was started in 2009, which saw many in the NUS community coming forward to donate their recyclables. Encouraged by the response, this project has continued in 2010, gathering a total of 186kg and 167kg of recyclables in January and December respectively.The funds from selling the recyclables will go to the needy students in the South West Constituency.

This project is divided into into two components:
1. PGP Charitable Recycling
2. Campus -wide Charitable Recycling  
Collection of unwanted clothes from the PGP residents was done from 27th Nov to 10th Dec. Goods were collected by a vendor appointed by South West Community Development Council (SWCDC)who sold them to contractors and were shipped to third world countries. Funds raised will be directed to 600 needy students from ITE College West.

PGP Charitable Recycling

We have collected a total of 167 kg of clothes and we thank the residents of PGP for making this project a success.

Campus -wide Charitable Recycling
The collection of unwanted clothes and electronic waste from NUS students and staff will be done from 24th Jan to 26th Jan. Currently there are no recycling points on campus for electronic waste and clothes, hence this provides an avenue for the students and staff to recycle these two categories of recyclables.
Goods collected will be consolidated and collected by Yok Impex and Tes-Amm, which are vendors appointed by South West Community Development Council (SWCDC). Funds raised will be directed to 900 needy students from ITE College West and 75 trainees from MINDS Clementi.

CNY recycling-international paper size

Collection will be done around campus from 24th Jan to 26th Jan 10am to 1pm in the following places.
1)Walkway outside central library
2)Faculty of engineering – LT6 foyer
3)Faculty of Science – outside student hub
4)Business canteen
We would like all of you to make your contribution and help us in our goal to help out the needy as well as making our environment a better place to live in.

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.

Reminders after installing recycling bins

It is a continuous work to remind and reeducate staff to maintain the proper standards of recycling bins.

After installing new bins, we often have to monitor the situation and then get all our landscaping/housekeeping supervisors and remind them that we are watching!!

Dr Peck and some of us go around snapping photos to later show to our landscaping/housekeeping vendors.

The powerpoint of all the photo records at Google Doc!

Actually in our briefing, we issue the following manual to the supervisors

Recycling Instructional Manual 100517

Hence, at the end of the day, it is getting people to follow instructions. Perhaps, if we had included everyone in the decision making process right at the beginning. Maybe we will do less policing work?

But such policing work has proven to work although it is tiresome. After repeated reminders, the landscaping contractors now no longer has simple mistakes with our recycling bins of covers being upside down etc.

It really takes time to bring about real systemic change.

It is not as easy as you design the system and things just get done. It will be good to involve stakeholders involved right at the beginning.

Recycling bins from Existing Trash Bins at Ridge View Residence

There is no need for 4 trash bins placed side by side at each floor – there is over capacity of trash bins.

Convert 3 of the trash bins into recycling bins for paper, plastic and cans respectively.

The residents are not recycling as much as they possibly can because of the inconvenience of having to bring the recyclables down to the first level.

By having the recycling bins on every single floor will bring convenience to the residents and encourage them to recycle.

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