Foul smell woes over new waste collection system in Bidadari better after mitigation measures: Desmond Lee

Engaging and educating residents on proper disposal is one of the measures taken.

Gawain Pek | September 19, 2023, 03:30 PM



The situation in Bidadari regarding odour generated as a result of a choked up Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS) has improved since the implementation of mitigation measures, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said in his written answer to a parliamentary question on Sep. 18.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Potong Pasir SMC Sitoh Yih Pin had asked about the Housing Development Board's (HDB) assessment of the PWCS in Bidadari, and its plans to address issues like the choking up of the system and "putrid odours" emanating from the bin centres.

Sitoh also asked if HDB will consider taking action against its vendors to seek reimbursement on behalf of the Town Council for the costs incurred in taking additional mitigation measures.

Foul smells from PWCS in Yuhua and Bidadari

The PWCS is a centralised waste collection system which connects rubbish chutes in an HDB estate via underground pipes.

Waste is then channeled to a centralised bin centre by air pressure.

The system was first installed in an estate in Yuhua in 2015.

Since then, it has been implemented in new estates in Tampines North, Punggol, Bidadari and Sengkang.

The PWCS has ran into stinking trouble in several estates across Singapore.

According to news reports in 2019, Yuhua residents complained of putting up with foul smells for four years due to a malfunctioning PWCS.

Back then, residents revealed that bulky items like large soft toys, cardboards and mattresses fed into the PWCS choked up its pipe network, resulting in the foul odours.

In 2021, Bidadari residents made similar complaints of foul smells due to an overwhelmed PWCS, according to The Straits Times.

In 2022, one resident in Block 220 Jurong East Street 21 complained that rubbish had piled up so high it reached the second floor inside the waste refuse chute for three months. The block also uses the PWCS.

Education, regular washing has improved situation: Lee

In his reply, Lee offered an explanation for the cause of the PWCS issue in Bidadari.

"Between 2020 and 2021, as many residents moved into Bidadari estate and carried out renovation works, a high volume of bulky refuse from renovation works was improperly disposed of in the PWCS, resulting in blockage. The bulky refuse has then to be cleared manually, generating odour in the process," Lee said.

In light of this, HDB and the Jalan Besar Town Council (JBTC) have been engaging and educating residents on the proper use of the PWCS.

JBTC has also conducted regular washing of the bin centre to minimise foul odours generated from it.

The PWCS vendor engaged by JBTC has also increased the frequency of the filter replacement to address the odour feedback from the exhaust system.

With these three measures, Lee commented that the situation has "improved".

Lee added that with the implementation of the PWCS in Bidadari, the waste collection process "has become cleaner and more efficient" compared to conventional waste collection methods.

Additionally, Lee remarked that town councils, being the ones who manage the PWCS through an appointed vendor, should seek reimbursement directly from their appointed vendor.

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Top image via Wikimedia Commons