Tuesday 22 December 2015

Hong Kah North launches 'zero waste' campaign

Hong Kah North rolls out smart bins in green campaign
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 21 Dec 2015

The Hong Kah North constituency in Bukit Batok yesterday launched a new zero waste initiative, doing its part to support the global climate pact sealed in Paris this month.

Under the year-long pilot, the constituency aims to recycle more, reduce food waste, and raise awareness of environmental conservation and environmentally-friendly practices through a new fund.

The campaign, called Hong Kah North Towards A Zero Waste Community, is a partnership between the Hong Kah North Grassroots Organisations and the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore.

This is the first large-scale project that the association is working on with a grassroots organisation.

To promote the habit of recycling, the constituency has placed four colourful smart bins at the community club. The bins, sponsored by waste management firm Otto Waste Systems, have sensors that will alert the town council when they are full. There will be two smart bins for general waste.

"Because they are attractively done up, people will be motivated to recycle and sort their recyclables," said Dr Amy Khor, MP for Hong Kah North SMC.

The constituency will be expanding its recycling efforts to include electronic waste, such as batteries and unwanted electronic devices, with specialised bins installed in the CC and at Residents' Committee centres.

The constituency hopes to get residents to produce less food waste, by encouraging them not to over-cook or over-order at coffee shops.

A new Hong Kah North Eco Community Fund was also set up.

Part of the $23,000 in the kitty will be used to purchase composting machines for schools in the constituency.

The funds would also be used to fund green projects proposed by students, with each successful project receiving up to $2,000.

Dr Khor, who is Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health, launched the partnership yesterday. She said: "The historic global climate pact is but the first step for all of us to work towards ensuring that we will continue to have a liveable planet.

"All of us should do our part - Government, companies, community and individuals like all of us - to conserve resources, reduce our energy consumption and contribute towards a reduction in carbon emissions."

Hong Kah North resident Vivian Lim, 40, a housewife, welcomed the initiative and said she will use the new bins.

"The green efforts at the schools will also teach my nine-year-old daughter how to be environmentally friendly," Madam Lim said.

At Hong Kah North, we began our recycling efforts in 2002. 14 years on, modern times call for modern (and creative)...
Posted by Amy Khor on Friday, January 8, 2016

"Two years of trash in this tiny little jar?" "Yep." (via Seeker Network)
Posted by Upworthy on Monday, January 18, 2016

CC testing bins that send e-mail or SMS when they are full
Hong Kah CC testing compactor bins that send e-mail or SMS alert when they are full, saving cleaners time and effort
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 8 Feb 2016

Cleaners at Hong Kah North Community Club (CC) in Bukit Batok will be making fewer trips to the bin - thanks to two "smart" ones that are being tried out.

These bins, which come with a trash compactor, can store up to eight times more rubbish than a normal bin of the same size.

They are also equipped with sensors that detect how full the bin is. A flashing icon of green, yellow or red at the front of the bin indicates whether it is mostly empty, half full or filled to the brim.

Hourly updates on how empty or full the bins are can be sent wirelessly via e-mail or SMS to the cleaners' own smartphones.

Together, the features will allow for more efficient cleaning schedules, said Mr Christopher Lopez, managing director of Otto Waste Systems, the importer of the bins from South Korea.

With real-time information on how full the bins are, cleaners can work more efficiently.

Madam Jamaliyah Daud, 47, a cleaner at the CC, said she does not need to check the bins as often now: "I used to check the bins three or four times a day. Now I can just look at the lights on the outside."

Madam Jamaliyah does not carry a smartphone but said staff at the CC's head office will inform her when they receive an SMS or e-mail alert that the bin is full.

Mr Lopez said cleaners cannot possibly keep watch over the bins all the time or know how much rubbish is being thrown into each bin.

"With this bin, they are informed ahead of time and can plan their schedules accordingly," he said.

The bins have been at the CC since December as part of a trial, at no extra cost to the CC.

Dr Amy Khor, the MP for Hong Kah North, said the bins will help cleaners who often have to pick up litter strewn around bins.

"They will save time and improve productivity since the bins can hold more rubbish due to the compaction. (And) the cleaners only need to clear the rubbish when they are alerted that the bins are full."

Such bins were tested at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and the Sports Hub in trials that ended last month and late last year, respectively.

Otto Waste Systems is in discussions to test them out elsewhere.

But these bins are not cheap. A 120-litre smart bin will cost from $3,500, while a normal bin of the same size costs $120 to $130.

The bins have also been used in places like South Korea and Europe. They can run on solar energy when placed in direct sunlight.

Their high price is the main obstacle to bringing them into the local market so far, said Mr Lopez.

He noted, however, that the bin can have LED displays on its sides and these can be sold as spaces for advertisements.

Bukit Batok resident Fasral Samad, 41, thinks the bins are too expensive but said they could be viable in the long run if they last for many years. "Most of the cleaners here are old so I think it's good that they don't need to walk up and down to check the bins as often," said the part-time accountant.

Madam Mary A., 54, another resident, felt the higher costs could be funded through savings in manpower costs. What is more important, she said, is that such bins can put a lid on the problem of overflowing rubbish.

"That attracts birds and insects and is very unhygienic. I will be very happy if these bins can put an end to that," said Madam Mary, who is unemployed.

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