Collection success in Singapore

Singapore: Close to 4 million beverage containers collected from smart reverse vending machines a year after launch

Greater participation in the Recycle N Save initiative by the public, with a higher rate of increase of recyclers opting for non-monetary rewards and about one in five of them choosing the ‘No Reward’ option when they recycle.

Since the launch of the Recycle N Save initiative in October 2019, close to 4 million plastic drink bottles and aluminium drink cans have been collected through the 50 smart Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) deployed across Singapore, including those under the Recycle N Save School Education Programme. This translates to approximately 200 containers collected a day by each RVM, about four times that of a smaller scale RVM trial by F&N in 2018 which saw over 55,000 containers collected by three RVMs in a one-year period. F&N Foods and the National Environment Agency (NEA) are heartened to see more people in Singapore recycling more and recycling right through this initiative.

2          The Recycle N Save initiative offers a wide range of rewards to users when they recycle at the smart RVMs. One can choose to recycle at Single-Reward RVMs that offer NTUC FairPrice discount vouchers or Multi-Reward RVMs that offer four different non-monetary rewards supported by CapitaLand, Sport Singapore, Sentosa Development Corporation and Anywheel. In the true spirit of environmental stewardship, users can also choose not to receive any rewards when they recycle at the Multi-Reward RVMs (refer to Annex A on the locations of the RVMs and the details of the rewards offered). While the NTUC FairPrice vouchers remain the most popular reward option, the rate of increase in the take-up of non-monetary rewards has been encouraging since its launch in June 2020, with a sizeable number of users even opting for the ‘No Reward’ option.

Results of the Recycle N Save Initiative

3          Since the full roll-out of all 50 RVMs in June 2020, the collection rates for both Single-Reward and Multi-Reward RVMs have increased steadily every month. For example, the average collection rate for the Multi-Reward RVMs that were only deployed in June 2020 increased by 2.6 times in the span of four months from July 2020 to October 2020. This is compared to the 1.6 times increase over the same period for the Single-Reward RVMs which dispense NTUC FairPrice vouchers. In addition, about one in five users of the Multi-Reward RVMs actually selected the ‘No Rewards’ option when they recycled their drink containers. These findings suggest that there is greater environmental awareness among users and recycling habits are starting to form among members of the community.

RVM School Education Programme

4          In March 2020, F&N and NEA introduced the first run of the RVM School Education Programme under the Recycle N Save initiative, to inculcate the habit of recycling from a young age. Five RVMs, which did not dispense any rewards, were placed in five primary and secondary schools till the end of the school year in November 2020. Despite closure of schools during the Circuit Breaker period, over 20,000 drink containers were collected over the first run of the programme. To garner interest and instil right recycling habits and behaviours among students, the schools also organised their own environmental educational activities such as poster design and video-making projects.

5          The second run of the RVM School Education Programme will start from 4 January 2021 till 28 May 2021, for a new group of five primary and secondary schools. Similarly, these schools will be organising their own environmental education activities to complement the placement of these RVMs (please refer to Annex B for more information on the RVM School Education Programme).

6          As part of the government’s continuing efforts to manage packaging waste, a Deposit Refund Scheme (DRS) will be introduced for beverage containers within the next few years as the first phase of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Framework. Based on the DRS implementation in other countries, the use of RVMs is one of the common collection channels. NEA will hence build on the experiences of the Recycle N Save initiative in developing a DRS framework for Singapore.

7          NEA will continue to work with partners and stakeholders to develop a 3R culture in Singapore, with a vision of working towards becoming a Zero Waste Nation. Everyone has a part to play in consuming sustainably and practising the 3Rs to ensure the sustainable management of Singapore’s waste and resources.

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