SINGAPORE – Residents in the Jurong area will have more vending machines offering vouchers in exchange for plastic drink bottles and aluminium cans.
Every 40 cans or 25 bottles deposited will result in 550 Grab reward points, the equivalent of $1 off their rides or food orders.
They can also receive a $30 voucher by energy supplier Ohm to offset their bill with every 50 cans or 32 bottles deposited.
The scheme is an expansion of a programme which saw the National Environment Agency (NEA) and F&N foods install 50 vending machines islandwide between October 2019 and June last year.
Speaking to reporters at Yuhua food centre on Sunday morning (Feb 28), Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said the reward system incentivises people to recycle.
“We hope to use (these vending machines) as a trial… If it is a successful, we can encourage other (districts) to do so, and bring recycling facilities closer to people’s homes and businesses,” she added.
The vending machines will be installed at five locations, including Yuhua food centre, Pioneer Mall and Science Centre Singapore. The remaining two locations will be revealed at a later date.
The five machines are expected to be up by the end of March, said waste management provider Alba W&H.
NEA had awarded the company a seven-year waste collection contract for the Jurong sector in March last year.
“Our overall goal is to raise awareness and increase recycling rates in Singapore.
“In the future, we want to roll out a lot more reverse vending machines in Singapore, in the next few years I hope,” said chief executive of Alba W&H Smart City Jakob Lambsdorff.
After depositing their drink containers, users can scan a QR code displayed on the machine with a mobile app to redeem vouchers.
Ms Fu said to get people to recycle properly, it is important to identify the right locations.
“(The location) has to be convenient, for the users as well as the collectors.
“Very often, the location may be good in that there is very high footfall, but it may not be easily accessible for big trucks to collect the waste, for example,” she said.
“We also hope people will recycle properly, by removing the remnants and keeping the bottles clean,” added Ms Fu.
Jurong resident Irene Ng, a 34-year-old housewife, used the machine for the first time at Yuhua food centre.
She said the machine was “very easy to use”.
“It’s a good initiative to encourage people to recycle and I would do it again,” she added.
While Ms Ng received only 80 points on Sunday, she could continue recycling to combine the value of other vouchers for the rewards.
The use of such vending machines is part of a pilot to encourage recycling.
The Government is tapping the experience abroad, where vending machines have proven popular, in its push for a Deposit Refund Scheme framework for Singapore.
NEA will be implementing the scheme by 2022 as the first phase of its approach for management of packaging waste.
Packaging waste, including plastics, is one of Singapore’s priority waste streams due to its high generation and low recycling rate.