Green In The City

We all know what the three Rs of sustainability are, but do we really know what belongs in those big blue recycling bins? In line with the launch of Raffles City’s Project Green, here’s a quick refresher on all things recyclable.

Ahh the age-old question—can this be recycled? It’s probably something we’ve asked ourselves many times as we stand in front of the recycling bin, drink can or plastic container in hand, debating whether or not to toss our unwanted receptacle in it.

Unfortunately, the answer is almost always a no, unless you’ve given your items a quick rinse beforehand.

One of the basic requirements of recycling is that items should be washed or cleaned before being disposed of in recycling bins, because once food and liquid waste leaks out, most items within the same bin will likely be unsuitable for recycling. This might seem like common knowledge, but cross-contamination is the main reason why in 2021, domestic recycling rates remained at a low of 13%, unchanged from 2020’s figures.

That begs the question, how much do we actually know about recycling in Singapore? Test yourself by taking our quiz below on all things recyclable.

Q1: Which of these items cannot be recycled as paper?

a.       Cardboard boxes

b.       Wooden chopsticks

c.        Receipts

d.       Tetra Pak drink cartons



Yes, paper comes from wood pulp, but wood itself isn’t paper, so it can’t be recycled as such!

Cardboard boxes are typically made up of a layer of flute (corrugated paper) sandwiched between two layers of Kraft paper, so in other words, they’re 100% paper and recyclable. There might be different types of receipts (i.e. thermal, wood-free, or carbonless), but they’re all made of paper, and can thus be recycled. Tetra Pak drink cartons might come with a waterproof lining, but as long as they’ve been emptied and washed, they’re good to be recycled as paper.

After recyclable papers are sorted, they’re shredded and soaked in vats to form pulp, which gets rolled out and dried to form paper again.
Among the different waste streams, plastics have the lowest recycling rate of 4% in Singapore, because many people are unaware of what plastics can or cannot be recycled, resulting in cross-contamination.

Q2: Which of these items can be recycled as plastic?

a. Baby toys

b. Old credit cards

c. Soap and shampoo bottles

d. Styrofoam boxes



Most soap and shampoo bottles are made of recyclable plastics, but don’t forget to rinse them out before dropping them off in the recycling bin! They might not contain food waste, but if they’re too greasy with residue liquids, they’ll be unsuitable for recycling.

Baby toys can technically be recycled, but only if they’re broken apart into their separate materials, so it’s best to donate them if they’re still in good condition. Most credit cards are made out of polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA), a type of plastic with high levels of toxic chemical additives. While they can be treated and recycled, they have to first be separated from all other components, which is why they’re not typically recycled. Likewise, styrofoam is very difficult to recycle because of its porous nature and tendency to leach harmful chemicals when heated, making it difficult to clean, so keep styrofoam out of the recycling bin!

Though mirrors are made of glass, the reflective coating makes them non-recyclable, so if your unwanted mirrors are still in good condition, consider donating them instead!

Q3: Which of these items can be recycled as glass?

a. Perfume bottles

b. Pyrex glassware

c. Ceramic dishes

d. Light bulbs



As long as they’re emptied and rinsed beforehand, perfume bottles can be recycled easily!

Pyrex glassware are made of glass, but it’s been tempered to withstand extremely high temperatures, which alters its properties slightly, rendering it non-recyclable. Ceramic dishes are made of clay, not glass, so they can’t be recycled as such. Though mainly made of glass, light bulbs contain electrical components that can be salvaged, so they fall under the e-waste category.


Q4: Which of these items cannot be recycled as metal?

a. Metal lunchboxes

b. Paint cans

c. Rusty food cans

d. Old medals



Cans with a small amount of rust on them are okay, but if the bulk of the can is covered in rust, then just toss it in the trash!

If they’re 100% metal, cutlery can be recycled too!
After sorting, old sport shoes are ground up to form rubber pellets, which are then used to form new running tracks or the synthetic rubber ground we commonly see in exercise corners and playgrounds.

Metal lunchboxes are typically made out of stainless steel, which is recyclable. With paint cans, as long as there’s no liquid paint left in them, they can be deposited in the recycling bin. Plus, it’s super satisfying to peel off that last bit of dried up paint from the inside of the can! With old medals, as long they aren’t too rusty, and have any ribbons or straps removed, they can be recycled as well.

Q5: Which of these items can be recycled at dedicated facilities?

a. Clothes

b. Sport shoes

c. Batteries

d. All of the above



With clothes, it’s always best to donate them if they’re still in good condition. Places like The Salvation Army or Tzu Chi are good places to drop them off. But if they’re well-worn pieces, Greensquare Textile Recycling is an option to consider. They’ve got drop-off points all over Singapore including The Green Collective at Funan (#02-18), and they even accept accessories like belts and bags as well, but all items have to be clean and packed securely.

For old sport shoes, ActiveSG has a recycling programme where donated shoes are repurposed into materials for jogging tracks, fitness corners, and playgrounds. And as for batteries, simply drop them off in any e-waste recycling bin!

Now that you’ve refreshed your knowledge on the dos and don’ts of recycling, you might be wondering where else you can drop your recyclables off, or what else you can do for the environment. Well, why not drop by Raffles City to participate in Project Green, an initiative to engage tenants and shoppers alike in sustainability-related activities?

Among the slew of programmes lined up, some highlights include the Project Green Showcase, an exhibition featuring some of the ways in which Raffles City’s very own tenants are doing their part for the environment. For instance, L'OCCITANE’s first and only eco-concept boutique at Raffles City features a refill fountain where shoppers can purchase products in reusable bottles, and Nespresso has a long-standing recycling programme where used coffee grounds are sent to local organic farms like Sky Greens to be turned into compost.

Apart from that, a permanent Green Corner has been set up within the mall, complete with interactive educational displays that will be refreshed quarterly, recycling bins, e-waste bins, and a bag sharing station. There’s also an ongoing Bagless Friday, where shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusables when shopping in the mall on Fridays. As an added perk, shoppers that BYO on Fridays will receive 2XSTAR$ for purchases made at participating stores.*

Of course, sustainability is a lot more than merely recycling, reducing, and reusing. It’s about learning and understanding how our actions impact the Earth, and how we can adopt the practices that work best for ourselves. So whether it’s by bringing your own shopping bags out, recycling that bubble tea cup (after washing it, of course), or simply getting your friends and family to complete our little quiz, we hope this inspires you to take that first step towards living a greener life.

Apart from recycling used coffee grounds, Nespresso also repurposes the used coffee capsules collected by customers into everyday products like Swiss army knives and pens. Image courtesy of Nespresso.

Project Green is a sustainability programme rolled out as part of Raffles City’s asset enhancement initiative. Running from 8 July to 25 September 2022, shoppers, tenants, and hotel guests will get the chance to participate in upcycling workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions, and other green activities led by Raffles City’s very own tenants.

For more information on Project Green, click here.

*Terms and conditions apply.

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