What S’poreans Should Know About “Pay-As-You-Throw” Rubbish Collection

What S’poreans Should Know About “Pay-As-You-Throw” Rubbish Collection

A National Environment Agency (NEA) official has raised the possibility that residents in Singapore may have to “pay as you throw”, when it comes to disposing household rubbish.

This could involve using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in bin chutes to track how much waste is produced by each household.

“We are working on a trial to track the number of times a household opens a rubbish chute hatch, with each opening accepting only a fixed volume of waste,” said NEA official Mr Cheang Kok Chung.

What do Singaporeans think about the “pay-as-you-throw” system?

Social media reaction to the news was overwhelmingly negative. Here are some of the concerns voiced out:

  1. Residents will start dumping rubbish in public areas.

  1. Big families will find it hard to reduce waste.

  1. Singaporeans are already paying S&CC and rubbish collection charges.

  1. Provide infrastructure for recycling instead.

  1. It will be hard to enforce. 

How much do Singaporeans currently pay for rubbish collection?

The uniform free scheme was introduced in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2015 that rubbish collection fees were streamlined islandwide. In 2014, The Straits Times reported that this fee will be reviewed every two years.

  • 2015 – 2016: S$7.49 (apartments) and S$24.81 (landed properties)
  • 2017 – present: S$8.25 (apartments) and S$27.47 (landed properties)

While there’s no word on the rates you may be paying under a “pay-as-you-throw” system, The Straits Times notes that some households under the new system may end up paying less.

It’s been brought up before

This isn’t a new idea.

Back in 2013, The Straits Times reported that the government was considering a “pay-as-you-throw” system.

In 2016, it appeared again in the NEA’s Solid Waste Management Technology Roadmap as one of the ideas to cut down waste in Singapore.

Will the system actually work? 

“Pay-as-you-throw” has actually been implemented in many cities globally, although the model differs from place to place.

There has been evidence that suggests “pay-as-you-throw” is good for the environment, as well as for taxpayer dollars. A 2018 study found that communities in Maine, USA, that practised “pay-as-you-throw” produced 44.8% less trash and a higher recycling rate than communities who didn’t.

A 2015 study also suggested that adopting the system could save the city of Buffalo, New York a whopping US$2.6 million a year.

For all the initial scepticism and potential flaws, “pay-as-you-throw” does seem to have several advantages, if successfully implemented. It could reduce the amount of trash we throw. As it costs money to deal with trash, this could reduce the costs of managing our city’s waste. Less money directed to our our city’s waste management budget means less tax burden – or at the very least, a better use of our taxpayer dollars.

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