“Pay-as-you-throw” idea for HDB rubbish chutes leaves S’poreans in shock & awe

There are upsides.

Nyi Nyi Thet | March 18, 03:47 pm

A Straits Times (ST) article on March 15, 2019 provoked quite the reaction among Singaporeans.

Here is the piece.

Image from Loh Boon Kwang

The ST article highlights some points brought up by Cheang Kok Chung, the director of National Environment Agency’s (NEA) department for environmental protection policy and international relations.

He was speaking at a presentation during the Sustainable Innovation Expo in Nairobi, Kenya from March 11-15, 2019.

Image from UN

According to the ST article, Cheang had touched on the lack of “pay-as-you-throw” elements in the current waste disposal fee.

One of the difficulties brought up by Cheang was the nature of Singapore’s method of trash disposal, specifically the sheer number of chutes available.

This might hinder an implementation of “pay-as-you-throw” system, as it would utilise a prepaid waste bag system.

Despite the potential obstacles, Cheang said he was hopeful that next time they could report that they were “closer to the ‘user-pay principle’ tax”.

Shock and awe

Singaporeans had some strong reactions to the news.

Starting with this rather inspired meme.

Image from Loh Boon Kwang

Others took the idea of a “pay-as-you-throw” system and just ran with it.

Not the first time it’s been brought up

The system is by no means a novel idea in Singapore.

In fact, the idea of “pay-as-you-throw” was brought up nearly three years ago in the 2016 Solid Waste Management Technology Roadmap.

Image from NCCS.gov.sg

Here is a snippet of what they basically advocated for.

Image from nccs.gov


One major factor people brought up in bashing the initiative was this.

Which appears to be a major push in getting the Facebook post by Loh Boon Kwang to over 1,000 shares in less than 5 hours.

However, here’s an important point to note.

There’s already a fee

Technically, technically, we are already paying for throwing waste.

There’s an S$8.25 rubbish collection fee for every apartment (both HDB and Condos), and a S$27.47 fee for landed households.

A popular argument to implement the “pay-as-you-throw” model is the idea that you would pay less if you threw less, as opposed to the flat fee everyone is paying, regardless of the amount of waste they contribute.

What could be implemented in the future, as brought up by ST, is a similar method to the South Korean system.

According to an Eco-Business article, here is what the South Korean system would entail.

“Under such systems, residents have to either buy designated bags to dispose of their trash or bring it to centralised rubbish bins equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that can identify the household, weigh its trash and bill it accordingly.”

That being said, an NEA spokesman did tell ST that there were no current plan to implement a “pay-as-you-throw” RFID system.

Image from Loh’s Facebook page

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