Best of our wild blogs: 17 Oct 17

SG seahore ID, can? - a new facebook group!
wild shores of singapore

22 Oct (Sun): Free R.U.M. Ubin Mangrove Walk
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Malaysia, Indonesia to discuss Sumatran rhino conservation

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia and Indonesia will hold meetings on efforts to save the Sumatran rhino.

The Sabah Forestry Department said a Technical Experts Meeting would be held on Wednesday and Friday in Jakarta to provide technical recommendations on rhinoceros conservation to both governments.

Malaysia, during the recently-concluded 11th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting in Tarakan, Indonesia, had proposed a high-level bilateral meeting on Sumatran rhino conservation to be held on Dec 4 and 5.

In Malaysia, only two of the rhinos — a male and a female — are in captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Tawau. A female Sumatran rhino died of skin cancer several months ago.

Wildlife experts estimate that there were only about 20 Sumatran rhinos left in Kalimantan and southern Sumatra.

The Sabah Wildlife Department had been keen to collaborate with its Indonesian counterparts on in-vitro fertilisation for the endangered species.

Malaysia had tabled a proposal on the “Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros” following the 9th HoB Trilateral Meeting.

The “Visit the Heart of Borneo” campaign was launched in conjunction with the recent meeting.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Azimuddin Bahari, during the launch, said the campaign would promote HoB eco-tourism areas.

“It is in line with the global aspiration, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, that 2017 would be International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

The Sabah and Sarawak Forestry Departments had identified top eco-tourism sites to promote. They were chosen based on how well they could further the HoB initiative.

The states would engage further with stakeholders on how best to implement the campaign.

The HoB Trilateral Meeting is held annually on a rotation basis among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia for each state to present reports on conservation efforts. It is a platform to discuss collaboration under the HoB initiative.

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Malaysia: Understanding environment terminology

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia has published a reference book which will enable the public to understand the environment in a layman’s terminology.

Its executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the book was a direct outcome of WWF Malaysia’s 2015 Environmental Writing Workshop held in Kinabatangan for the media.

The book provides clear and concise definitions of conservation terms, besides introducing readers to the players in the conservation scene. It defines protected areas and forest reserve classes.

“A participant at the workshop had suggested that we create a list of environmental terms. People will only want to conserve something that they understand, and they can only understand what they know,” he said.

Dionysius, a former wildlife biologist, added that he had observed that scientists usually publish research in scientific journals, using technical terms that are not layman-friendly.

He said he hoped the book would make it easier for everyone to digest conservation issues and, in so doing, empower them to protect the environment.

The book is free for students, educators and media practitioners, while others can get it for a token donation of RM10.

It can be collected at WWF-Malaysia’s office at Centre Point Complex by contacting Brian Richard at brian.richard

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Thailand: Conference discusses bid to save dugongs from extinction

The Nation 16 Oct 17;

A national convention on dugongs and seagrass preservation was held on Monday to find the solution to save dugongs from extinction.

National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department director-general Thanya Netithammakun headed the conference, which included representatives from the relevant agencies such as the Marine and Coastal Resources Department and the faculties of fisheries from various universities.

Thanya pointed out that the changing environment and climate change had severely affected the dugong population worldwide.

There was a strong need for all officers to understand the situation and work together to save dugongs, their habitat and their main food source – sea grass fields.

Therefore, he stressed that the outcome of this convention was crucial for dugong conservation in Thailand, where the population of this rare marine mammal was shrinking at a concerning rate.

It is believed that there are only about 200 dugongs left in Thai waters, and around 150 of these are in Had Chao Mai marine national park in Trang, where the seagrass field is well preserved and abundant.

Dept aims for dugong preservation
Bangkok Post 17 Oct 17;

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to strengthen measures for preserving and conserving the dugong population with the local community's participation, saying the plan also includes increasing seagrass habitat which is the main food source for the seacow-like mammal.

Thanya Nethithammakul, chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said dugong populations are being threatened by a loss of fertility in the seagrass habitat, and disturbance due to fishing gear and man-made hunting. The department needs to develop more effective measures to limit the losses and increase their population, he said.

Many seagrass habitats were now being destroyed as some locals collect tiny and colourful fish found near seagrass sites. It is a challenging issue to figure out how to manage this problem as the location of some dugong habitats are not under the department's jurisdiction.

He stressed that cooperation from all stakeholders is important for the mammal's conservation and protection in the long run, adding the department will put more focus on local participation and is ready to stop or suspend any project if there is opposition from locals.

He referred to a controversial case against national park authorities regarding a plan to attach tags to dugongs to monitor their travels. Locals had said the project would pose a threat to the rare species as the long-tailed tag or cord might get tangled with fishing gear and cause their death. The project has been suspended by the department.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Office, said the department plans to increase the dugong population by improving the fertility of seagrass habitats, adding there is evidence of dugong populations having been found in many marine national parks in Chumphon, Phangnga and Phuket decades ago, but none or very few of them are seen now.

"If we can improve the quality of seagrass or make it fertile again, we believe the dugongs will come back to these places and their population will expand to new places, not only the main spot around Libong island in Trang province," he said.

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Pope at UN demands response to hunger, climate, migration

NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Yahoo News 16 Oct 17;

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis demanded Monday that world governments collectively commit to end rising world hunger by resolving the conflicts and climate change-related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread.

Francis drew a standing ovation Monday at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, where he marked the U.N.'s World Food Day by calling for governments to work together to tackle the interconnected problems of hunger, global warming and migration.

He cited the Paris climate accord, in which governments committed to capping heat-trapping emissions, as an example of taking action to fight global warming based on scientific evidence. But in what appeared to be a jab at the United States, which has announced it is withdrawing from the accord, Francis lamented that "unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it."

Francis said negligence and greed over the world's limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food.

"We are called to propose a change in lifestyle and the use of resources," Francis told the audience, which included agriculture ministers from the Group of Seven nations. "We cannot make do by saying 'someone else will do it.'"

Last month, the U.N. reported that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was rising again after a decade of declines thanks to prolonged conflicts and climate change-related floods and droughts. While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the U.N. warned that the increase "is cause for great concern."

Francis said the answer wasn't to reduce the world's population but rather to better manage the planet's abundant resources and prevent waste. Francis called the population control argument — which the Catholic Church has long opposed — a "false solution."

Rather, he called for a new model of international cooperation that incorporates love, fraternity and solidarity into responding to the needs of the poorest.

Francis said it's not enough to respond with pity, "because pity is limited to emergency aid."

Love, he said, "inspires justice and is essential to bring about a just social order."

In a tangible sign of his message, Francis' gift to the U.N. food agency to commemorate his visit was a marble sculpture of Aylan, the toddler who washed up on a Turkish beach in October 2015. The sculpture, which features a wailing angel over the little boy's corpse, symbolizes the tragedy of migration, the Vatican said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 Oct 17

An otterly fun time at Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs and wild shores of singapore

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Singapore households throw away S$200m worth of food and beverage a year, according to Electrolux's latest survey

PR NEWSWIRE ASIA AsiaOne 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE, Oct. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In conjunction with World Food Day on October 16, 2017, Electrolux Singapore commissioned a survey to highlight the amount of food waste generated in our homes.

The Electrolux Home Food Waste survey reveals that 85 per cent of Singapore households do not consume their food before the indicated date on food packing, contributing to mounting food waste in the city state.

This amounts to some S$170 worth of food and beverage being thrown away by each household a year. Annually, Singapore households trash about S$200 million worth of food and beverage. [1]

According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food waste was generated in Singapore in 2016. This marked a 41.5 per cent increase over the past decade.

The study is the third edition of Electrolux Singapore's annual #HappyPlateSG community initiative, which started in 2015. Previous years focused on consumption of 'ugly food' and finishing of meals to prevent food wastage.

Mr Douglas Chua, General Manager of Electrolux Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: "Tackling food waste is the cornerstone of our yearly initiative. This year, our focus is on food in storage, such as pantries and refrigerators. Often, we buy food, store them, but end up forgetting to consume them before their indicated dates on the packaging. This results in their eventual disposal. We want to encourage behavioural change that will allow for greater food sustainability and reduced waste."

The theme for this year is #SeasonYourEx, a short form for Season Your Expiring Food.

This initiative aims to educate, and change consumers' mindsets that expiring and leftover food are not as tasty as fresh food. Expiring and leftover food, from perishables such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, to packaged items such as canned meats and fruits, can still taste as good as the fresh ones when using creative cooking tips and recipes.

Other highlights from the survey which polled 1,000 households:

20 per cent would never consume food if it is passed the indicated date.

Seven out of 10 (72 per cent) could attribute the meanings of 'Best Before', 'Sell By' and 'Expires On', demonstrating knowledge that food passed its indicated date did not necessarily mean it is unfit for consumption.
On attitudes

Majority of the households (84 per cent) were shocked, guilty, sad and angry when confronted with the food waste that Singapore generates.
lt (10 per cent) indifferent about it.

On consumption

Half of the households (48 per cent) would continue eating the item if the taste or texture remained similar to the original
Six in 10 (58 per cent) said they would do so if the items were frozen, vacuum sealed and stored well, and showed no signs of turning bad.

Ms Fiona Chia, Director of nutrition consultancy Health Can Be Fun, said: "Some food that are nearing or have exceeded the indicated date may still be eaten."

"An 'Expires On' date applies if there is a health risk in eating the item after that date. A 'Best Before' date is used as a guide to indicate how long a product can retain its peak quality and freshness. A 'Sell By' date acts as a reference for retailers, to let them know how long an item can be put on display for sale," she added.

Mr Eric Low, Chef-Owner of Lush Epicurean Culinary Consultancy and author of six cook books, said: "Managing food nearing or have passed the indicated date is on a case by case basis. Different categories of food do not deteriorate at the same rate. Storage methods such as optimal temperature, frozen and vacuum sealing also help prolong the food lifespan."

A dedicated microsite will include tips on reducing food waste, how to be involved, recipe inspirations, "Ask Happy Plate", among others. "Ask Happy Plate" is a new column featuring food experts, chefs and nutritionists, and will answer the public's questions on food management.

There is also a social media component to this initiative. The public is highly encouraged to participate and contribute to greater food waste awareness. Participation will be through two steps:

Post a photo of an expired, or soon to be expired, food or leftover item in your home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share what you can do with it
Hashtag #SeasonYourEx #HappyPlateSG
For every 5 #hashtags and/or social media shares, Electrolux will fund the costs of running The Food Bank Singapore's van for one day. The van collects donated food items from collection points across Singapore, and distributes them to beneficiaries.

Ms Nichol Ng, Co-founder of non-profit The Food Bank Singapore, said: "Every month, we collect on average 60,000 kg of food and distribute these surpluses to organisations and people in need of food. We hope more people can be onboard this meaningful project so that our van can constantly hit the roads and deliver those foods promptly.

"Everybody has a part to play when it comes to food waste management. Our aim is to have the Food Bank van funded for a year so that more individuals and beneficiaries can continuously benefit from our initiative, which is to allow food access to those in need while reducing food waste – a win-win situation."

The Food Bank Singapore is a non-profit charity which collects and redistributes food to the needy via various channels such as Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Charities, Soup Kitchens etc. It also sells close to expiring food at The Food Pantry at discounted prices. Purchasing these food items will help reduce the food waste Singapore generates.

Notes to Editor:

*According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food was wasted in Singapore in 2016.

The Electrolux survey was commissioned in September 2017, and polled 1,000 households, representative of the Singapore population aged 18-65 years old. The survey comprised a questionnaire of multiple-choice questions on consumers' understanding of food labels, consumption of food passed the indicated dates on packaging, acceptance towards such food, value of discarded food, and awareness on food waste.

About Electrolux

Electrolux shapes living for the better by reinventing taste, care and wellbeing experiences, making life more enjoyable and sustainable for millions of people. As a leading global appliance company, we place the consumer at the heart of everything we do. Through our brands, including Electrolux, AEG, Anova, Frigidaire, Westinghouse and Zanussi, we sell more than 60 million household and professional products in more than 150 markets every year. In 2016 Electrolux had sales of SEK 121 billion and employed 55,000 people around the world. For more information go to

About The Food Bank Singapore Ltd

Established in 2012, The Food Bank Singapore ( is Singapore's first food bank and aims to be the prevailing centralised coordinating organisation for all food donations in Singapore. Its mission is to bridge potential donors and members (beneficiaries). It complements charities' food donation efforts by helping them to obtain better access to excess food. The Food Bank is also looking at finding creative and alternative ways to maximise use of excess food. Besides collecting, storing and distributing donated food, The Food Bank Singapore aspires to be the voice of food resource planning and management, and spread the word on its importance to ensure long term providence of food for everyone.

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More community spaces proposed for car-lite, green 'neighbourhoods of the future'

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Car-lite neighbourhoods potentially served by self-driving vehicles that take residents to and from nearby MRT stations. Bigger green spaces and wider sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. Buildings that are "sensitive" to the natural and built-up landscape.

These are among the features that could define future neighbourhoods in Singapore, starting with three upcoming ones - Bayshore in the east, Holland Plain in the central-west, and Kampong Bugis which is near the city.

Details of the proposals were unveiled on Monday (Oct 16) by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) at the launch of a month-long exhibition at the URA Centre Atrium.

At the heart of the proposals are three broad concepts: Car-lite neighbourhoods that put the people's needs first, vibrant and inviting community spaces that encourage interaction, and the incorporation of environmental features that not only enliven the living spaces but assist in recycling and waste management.

The URA said it wants to encourage greater interaction among residents and the community at large without sacrificing their need for privacy and security. Suggestions to do this include creating a more "open-concept" precinct that makes better use of landscaping, or water features, as natural barriers.

"In all of these new neighbourhoods, we will nurture a stronger sense of community. We want to strengthen the ‘kampung’ spirit in our modern urban habitats," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said in a speech at the opening of the exhibition.

The three new neighbourhoods are slated to have a combined total of about 19,000 private and public housing units. Holland Plain and Kampong Bugis are expected to have private housing, while Bayshore will have a mix of public and private properties.

Greater connectivity to MRT stations will be one common design feature in all three neighbourhoods. "All three upcoming precincts will be within a comfortable 5 to 10-minute walk to one or more MRT stations," said Mr Wong, noting that additional "last-mile connectivity" features will be added as well, such as a new underpass and footbridge to link Kampong Bugis directly to the nearby Kallang and Lavender MRT stations.

The URA intends Kampong Bugis, which will be launched in a year or two's time, to be developed into a car-lite town for residents and families who prefer taking public transport, or walking and cycling.

The lower car dependency in the neighbourhood will likely mean fewer parking spaces, with the land freed up instead for parks and community spaces.

At the precinct, which will be planned and designed by a master developer, car park lot provisions could be adjusted to one lot for every two residential units.

A district-level pneumatic waste conveyance system — a first for a private residential district — has also been proposed. The system can collect waste from all residential units into one central station through a vacuum system.

Meanwhile, Holland Plain estate, which sits adjacent to the rail corridor and is scheduled for a 2021 launch, will feature plenty of green spaces, according to the proposals showcased by the URA. This includes a new wetland park and a large community plain.

There are also proposed plans to widen the neighbourhood's sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists. For instance, the existing 1.5m-wide footpaths on the fringes of Holland Plain could be expanded to 3.5m-wide.

The URA added that new buildings in Holland Plain will be "sensitive" to its surroundings, by taking into account the area's "sloping character", and its proximity to landed housing estates, the Rail corridor, and the park connector along the diversion canal.

For Bayshore, which will be launched after 2024, the URA is looking to turn it into a "future-ready community". Suggestions floated include making it a car-lite neighbourhood, potentially with self-driving vehicles providing residents transportation to and from the two MRT stations that serve the estate.

There would be fewer car park lots, and roads in the estate could be reduced from three to two lanes in order to free up space for community facilities. "The master plan will anticipate changes in technology in phases, providing resiliency to adapt to the changing needs," the URA said.

These proposals will be exhibited on weekdays from Oct 16 to Nov 20. The public is invited to provide feedback on the ideas shown, and can either do so at the exhibition, or online at

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Malaysia: Raising a stink over fish farm losses

lo tern chern The Star 16 Oct 17;

NIBONG TEBAL: The state government should pay RM100mil compensation to open sea fish farmers affected by leachate from the Sungai Burung landfill.

South Seberang Prai district village development officer and South Seberang Prai Eco-Tourism Development Association secretary Kuan Hin Yeap (pic) claimed that fish farmers at sea stopped releasing new fish fry after the leachate risk was made public.

Last Wednesday, state Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin visited the leachate ponds and blamed the Federal Government’s Department of Environment for putting the fish cages at risk.

It was reported that Dr Afif said the pollution was “plain to the naked eye” and called on DOE to take immediate steps because it would put the state’s fisheries sector at risk.

Penang, he said, has the second highest number of open sea fish farms after Sabah.

There are 186 open sea fish farms less than 3km from the Pulau Burung landfill shoreline, visible to the left of the island-bound side of the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.

“After Dr Afif announced the risk of leachate, farmers refrained from releasing new fry.

“The Nibong Tebal Fish Farm Association predicted that if this continues, all 186 farms here will close down within three years.

“They have calculated that the farmers are hoping to obtain a total of RM86.3mil compensation for the damage sustained in the past five years, or RM464,000 per farmer.

“That is not only compensation for wages and diesel loss, but also the cost of fry and feed,” said Kuan.

Kuan expressed disappointment and accused the state of showing a lack of concern over the pollution.

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Penguins die in 'catastrophic' Antarctic breeding season

BBC 13 Oct 17;

All but two Adelie penguin chicks have starved to death in their east Antarctic colony, in a breeding season described as "catastrophic" by experts.

It was caused by unusually high amounts of ice late in the season, meaning adults had to travel further for food.

It is the second bad season in five years after no chicks survived in 2015.

Conservation groups are calling for urgent action on a new marine protection area in the east Antarctic to protect the colony of about 36,000.

WWF says a ban on krill fishing in the area would eliminate their competition and help to secure the survival of Antarctic species, including the Adelie penguins.

WWF have been supporting research with French scientists in the region monitoring penguin numbers since 2010.

The protection proposal will be discussed at a meeting on Monday of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The Commission is made up of the 25 members and the European Union.

Adelie penguin breeding habits
Adelie penguins are the most southerly breeding bird in the world.
They are found along the Antarctic coast, and breed from October to February
They typically lay two eggs in nests made of stones, and parents take turns to incubate the eggs
Breeding adults may have to travel up to 30-75 miles (50-120 km) to catch food to then regurgitate for their chicks

"This devastating event contrasts with the image that many people might have of penguins," Rod Downie, Head of Polar Programmes at WWF, said.

"The risk of opening up this area to exploratory krill fisheries, which would compete with the Adelie penguins for food as they recover from two catastrophic breeding failures in four years, is unthinkable.

"So CCAMLR needs to act now by adopting a new Marine Protected Area for the waters off east Antarctica, to protect the home of the penguins."

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Oct 17

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (13 Oct 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Favourite Nectaring Plants #14
Butterflies of Singapore

Fan-bellied Filefish (Monacanthus chinensis) @ Coney Island (Pulau Serangoon)
Monday Morgue

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Every condo block to have a recycling bin

SIAU MING EN Today Online 14 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — To get more households to recycle that extra milk carton or plastic bag, all condominiums will be required to provide a recycling bin for every block from August next year.

More than half of the respondents in the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) customer satisfaction survey said they preferred to have a recycling bin at their block instead of only one common bin for the whole estate, the agency told TODAY.

“Over the years, NEA has received feedback from residents that they were not able to locate the recycling bins or that there were insufficient recycling bins within their estates,” a spokesperson said.

He added: “NEA is therefore making it a requirement for condominium managements to provide one recycling bin per block from 1 August 2018.”

In a similar move in 2011, the NEA required public waste collectors to provide a blue recycling bin at every Housing and Development Board block. Its full rollout took about three years.

Before that, five blocks shared a recycling bin. Since 2008, all condominiums and private high-rise apartments have been required to provide recycling receptacles — such as bins or bags — for paper, plastics, cans and glass.

With the new requirement, condo managements of some 3,000 developments here must submit a declaration of compliance to NEA, who will conduct follow-up inspections, the spokesperson said.

Domestic recycling rates inched up from 19 to 21 per cent between 2015 and last year but is still a far cry from the target of 30 per cent by 2030, as set out in the 2015 Sustainable Singapore Blueprint.

While the additional bins would encourage more residents to recycle, they may target those who are already keen, said Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah of the National University of Singapore’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

“It’s a matter of convenience,” he said.

The bins could also get more people to start thinking about recycling, added Assoc Prof Tong.

Apart from providing the infrastructure, there should be more educational outreach on recycling, said Mr Eugene Tay, executive director of Zero Waste SG, a non-profit.

Domestic recycling rates have remained quite low despite the presence of a National Recycling Programme since 2001, he added.

But NEA said the household participation rate of the National Recycling Programme was more than 70 per cent last year.

In April last year, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said about 30 to 50 per cent of materials thrown into the recycling bins were not suitable for recycling.

A study conducted by Assoc Prof Tong’s student found that recycling rates among some 1,000 residents significantly improved after outreach efforts by non-governmental organisations.

A resident of Kovana condominium who only wanted to be known as Ms Ling, 27, said she would recycle more often if there were bins at her block.

“There is no easy way to (recycle)… If there’s a blue bin where I can put my paper waste, then it’s much more convenient and I’ll definitely do it,” said the student.

Ms Ling prefers having a common recycling bin that would not require residents to sort their recyclables. “(Common recycling bins entail) just one extra step, but if I have to conscientiously sort them out every day, then it’ll be too (troublesome and involve more steps) and I won’t do it,” she said.

Others like engineer Angeline Lee, 24, who already recycles regularly, said more incentives, such as supermarket rebates, could encourage more people to pick up the habit.

Ms Lee began sorting her waste after studying in Norway two years ago. She now throws paper and plastic waste into their respective bins at her block in Jewel@Buangkok.

She avoids the common recycling chute provided at her condominium after once seeing it used for normal waste disposal, when the usual chute was full.

“That made me think, how exactly do they collect that (recyclable) waste?” she said.

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