S’pore’s recycling bin persona Bloobin has quite a lot to share about our recycling habits

A gentle reminder to recycle right.

| Zhangxin Zheng | Sponsored | January 14, 2023, 10:55 AM

You may have come across a variety of interview pieces written by my colleagues.

Some of them spoke to the honchos of big firms in Singapore like the boss of Sheng Siong, while others hoped you can get to know celebrities better like Rui En and how she’s doing good together with her fan club.

But they are nothing quite like this interviewee that I recently spoke to – Bloobin, Singapore’s first trash-talking bin who is a pretty grumpy character.

Sounds familiar? Yes, Bloobin is the blue bin that stands tall within our estate to take in recyclables from residents who care about the environment, rain or shine. However, many have also been giving him trash and other non-recyclables. Currently 40 per cent of the items deposited in recycling bins cannot be recycled due to contamination.

In giving him a voice, hopefully more people in Singapore will understand what kind of recyclables Bloobin needs and refuses, and collectively we can improve our recycling habits and contribute to a cleaner, greener Singapore.

Recycling right is important as it reduces the amount of waste that goes to the Semakau landfill. The landfill will run out of space by 2035 if the amount of waste that we put into it doesn’t decrease.

Here are Bloobin’s replies to my questions:

Tell us 3 words that best describe you.

Hopeful, blue and grouchy.

Singapore residents may not have the best recycling habits. Have you ever gotten mad at them?

I do feel frustrated and hurt by the mistreatment and abuse I’ve received over the years.

The biggest thing that irks me is the amount of rubbish and contaminants thrown into me, treating me like a trash bin. What people don’t seem to understand is that I only like clean recyclables.

When someone throws a contaminant into me, such as packaging with food or liquid waste, it contaminates other recyclables and that would then waste other residents’ efforts in recycling. As contaminated recyclables cannot be recycled, everything has to be incinerated instead and sent to the Semakau Landfill. That really hurts.

Another thing that upsets me is when people incorrectly dispose of flammable waste such as electronic waste, or even hot ashes and lit cigarettes. These items can cause me to go up in flames and become a fire hazard to the whole neighbourhood.

Instructions are written on my body for all to see, but there are people who somehow still do not follow instructions.

So what cheers you up?

I’m happy when I see more people making an effort to recycle more and recycle right! Things like emptying and rinsing drink cans, food containers and packaging thoroughly before throwing them into me. Seriously, I have no appetite for dirty and unhygienic trash, you know.

Everyone should come together to do our part in recycling. There would be less waste sent to Semakau Landfill, and valuable resources would get a second life by being recycled as materials for new products. Wouldn’t that be better than disposing of them as trash and being incinerated?

It’s the small things that add up to make a big difference.

Festive season is around the corner, what are some things you would like to receive?

Some may call me fussy, but I just like being clean and neat.

So I’ll greatly appreciate flattened packaging and cardboard boxes from your shopping and presents, because that would save space and allow me to collect more recyclables! If you haven’t realised, you can also give me wrapping paper and bubble wrap.

Plenty of plastic containers, glass bottles and jars, metal cans and containers from your parties? Give them all to me, but remember to clean them first.

You don’t have to separate these recyclables, because I like them mixed, like rojak.

What are some things that we should avoid passing to you?

I absolutely do not like items that are dirty, such as greasy containers with food waste, disposable cutlery and unwashed drink cans. I mean, who does?

Pizza boxes are a big no-no too! Food and liquid waste can attract pests and encourage the spread of harmful germs and bacteria. Not to mention the foul smell.

Oh, and no tissue paper and Styrofoam either. Be nice to me and the workers at the Materials Recovery Facility who have to manually sort through the items, pretty please won’t you?

Sigh. I have been getting face masks and ART kits which are just gross. Please throw them into the trash bin instead!

If I’m not sure what recyclables to give you, what should I do?

You can easily check what can and cannot be recycled using my recycling search engine: www.go.gov.sg/recycleright. If you don’t find the item there, you can also let me know via the suggestion form so that I can update the search engine.

How was 2022 for you?

2022 was a good year, I must say.

While the number of people recycling have dipped slightly, the amount of actual recyclables have increased. This means that less waste is produced and that people are passing me more recyclables that I can accept.

That said, more can still be done to reduce contamination. This year, I hope that more people will recycle right, such as cleaning their items before giving them to me and knowing what I like and don’t like better.

Any memorable incident in 2022?

I was happy to be formally introduced to y’all and I can now speak to you!

It was also lovely to see more social gatherings as things get back to normal after the last two years of restrictions.

Are you looking forward to Lunar New Year? Any zero-waste tips to share?

Absolutely! Loads of empty angbaos and clean snack and drink containers to look forward to.

You know my new friend Bloobox?

If you’ve collected it, you can use it to collect recyclables in your home before sending them over to me.

When you guys are spring cleaning, remember to donate items that can be reused such as toys, books, clothes and shoes that are in good condition. If those items are in bad condition, try repairing or repurposing before you decide to throw them into the trash bin.

Electronic waste like batteries, power banks and old mobile phones should be deposited in the e-waste recycling bins instead. Do remember to tape the ends of the batteries to prevent fire incidents.

For old or broken furniture, you can arrange with your Town Council or a licensed waste collector to get rid of them. Do not leave them next to me or force them upon me, else I will break down!

Repeat after me: Only paper, plastic, glass and metal recyclables for Bloobin.

If your item contains rubber, fabric, wood or any other materials, that’s for the trash bin.

What’s your resolution for 2023?

As always, to receive more clean recyclables only — no trash. Remember to Check, Clean and Recycle Right, fingers crossed!

This sponsored article, brought to you by the National Environment Agency, is written by someone who hopes Bloobin can be less grumpy in the future.

Top image via NEA’s images