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#RecycleRight Citizens' Workgroup

Environmental issues often have far-reaching impact on daily lives. To ensure that policies meet Singaporeans’ needs, priorities and aspirations for sustainable living, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) is working together with Singaporeans to formulate and implement meaningful solutions to environmental challenges.

In 2019, MEWR convened its first-ever Citizens’ Workgroup to look at how to improve household recycling. The objectives were manifold. MEWR wanted to carry out in-depth conversations with a diverse group of Singaporeans on an environmental problem that was important and relatable to everyone. Through the Workgroup, MEWR hoped to catalyse citizen-led initiatives that would address these issues in practical ways, aligned with the daily lived experiences of Singaporean households.

The #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup Journey

The #RecycleRight Citizens’ Workgroup was convened in September 2019. To ensure that a diverse group of Singaporeans was recruited for the Workgroup, MEWR worked with the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) to conduct a public call for applications in July 2019. More than 300 people responded. Potential members were shortlisted by IPS, to ensure diversity in age, race, household type, education and recycling behaviour. A total of 48 people accepted the invitation to be part of MEWR’s first Citizens’ Workgroup.

Members of the Workgroup were given a broad problem statement: How can we improve the way households recycle?

Over the course of a month, the Workgroup met at four full-day facilitated sessions to discuss the issue, and to ideate and propose potential solutions. To support them in their work, MEWR arranged for the Workgroup members to visit a Materials Recovery Facility prior to the first session. This enabled them to observe first-hand the recycling situation in Singapore.

Members were also provided with relevant information, such as survey findings on household recycling behaviour, data on household recycling rate, Singapore’s Zero Waste Masterplan, and educational materials on recycling put out by MEWR and the National Environment Agency (NEA). MEWR also arranged for the members to meet subject matter experts from Government, private sector and civil society to tap on their views and experience. By the end of the first two sessions (on 21 and 22 September), the Workgroup had formed themselves into teams to further develop nine key ideas.

The energy, passion and commitment of the members were evident throughout the process. The teams met outside of the four sessions to conduct further research and pilot testing to explore the feasibility of their ideas. MEWR supported these efforts by connecting them to the relevant stakeholders, and providing funds for their pilot testing and prototypes.

Participants sharing their ideas on how to improve household recycling.

Members of the #RecycleRight Citizens' Workgroup with Dr Amy Khor, after a fruitful session.

On 19 October, the Workgroup gathered for the third session, to share and further discuss their proposals. Voting was conducted amongst the members to rank the ideas based on relevance, effectiveness, scalability and sustainability. The top six presented their proposals to Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, during the final session on 20 October.

A month later, the Workgroup submitted a report on all of their proposals and recommendations. Their nine key recommendations included redesigning blue bins to facilitate more conscious recycling, as well as a #DabaoRight app that incentivises citizens to bring their own containers to take away food.

MEWR has studied their proposals carefully. Several of the proposals mooted similar areas of concerns and suggestions, which underscored the need to address these issues. MEWR thus identified four pilot projects and will continue to work with members on the following projects and look forward to developing and co-delivering the recommendations together with the Workgroup members.

a) Developing a sustainable community
b) Piloting a new blue bin design
c) Researching into Deposit Refund Scheme
d) Developing the #DabaoRight App

For more information on this project and to contribute your ideas and suggestions, visit www.towardszerowaste.sg/citizens_workgroup

Singapore Together is a movement that aims to engage all Singaporeans in creating our shared future together. As the government works with Singaporeans, and Singaporeans work with each other, there will be more ways for us to take action in areas we care about. Let's transform challenges into opportunities and turn diversity into strength. Together, we can create a Singapore we are proud to call home.

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