A NOVEL SOLUTION?
There may yet be another solution to Singapore’s recycling problems, thinks Kavickumar. And it could lie with the karung guni men going from door to door collecting recyclable items such as newspapers, among other unwanted goods.
“They’re very good at bundling recyclables, doing that source separation without any contamination,” he said. “They also have linkages back to recyclers, so they ensure that the recyclables end up at the doorsteps of recyclers.”
According to a 2019 Eco-Business article, karung guni men collect almost nine times more than the national recycling effort. They should be given formal roles in waste management firms and recycling companies, suggested Kavickumar.
“They can be (sent) out to the different estates, helping to collect recyclables,” he said. “We’ll be basically seeing better segregation at source, and that’ll help to reduce a lot of contamination along the way.”
This view was echoed by second-generation karung guni man Bryan Peh, 30, who “seldom” has a contamination problem. “Because if (people) were to send me contaminated items, I’d pay them less,” he said.