Why does Singapore not recycle batteries?

Singapore is proud of her political and economical achievement, although she is just a tiny dot in the world map. However, the effort of her people in environmental protection is not enough if we compare the lifestyle of most Singaporean with those in western countries.

t_batteries 

Battery-recycling is a hot issue as battery itself is dangerous and it contains heavy metal such as Cadmium and Nickel. The leakage of these heavy metals into soil will spoil the ability of soil to grow crops in long term. The expose of these heavy metals into environment will affect human health and ecosystem through a process called Bio-accumulation.

 

However, the decision of not recycling batteries is quite unrelated to the green movement in Singapore. In Singapore’s context, the most suitable way to dispose batteries is by incineration. You may wonder why, let me explain slowly.

 

First, Singapore government has banned the dangerous batteries which contain high heavy metal since 1992. The government controls the potential threat posed by source control, which is more effective. Reduce always takes the higher priority than recycle.

 

Second, Singapore incinerates her municipal waste and disposes the incinerated bottom ash at Pulau Semakau landfill. The amount of batteries ash occupied less than 1% of the daily disposed amount in landfill. Hence, this amount is negligible in order to extend the lifespan of Pulau Semakau landfill.

Pulau Semakau landfill

Third, the four incineration plants in Singapore have good management as the concentration of hazardous waste in flying ash is less than 0.01% of original concentration. Both flying ash and incinerated bottom ash are stabilized well, after the TCLP (Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedures) test(which is introduced by US Environmental Protection Agency), and before being dispose into Pulau Semakau landfill.

 

How about building a battery recycling plant in Singapore? This suggestion may be suitable in South Korea and Japan, which have strong local supply of unwanted batteries. A battery recycling plant in Singapore needs to import batteries from neighbouring countries. But importing these hazardous waste needs to go through several international legislation such as Basel Convention, which are very problematic.

 

Hong Kong and Taiwan practice battery-recycling, as their main waste disposal method is by landfill. The heavy metal may leak out and contaminate their ground and groundwater. So, they gather all those batteries into a large compartment and send them to South Korea or Japan. For a normal household batteries, several grams of metal will be recovered through recycling process. 

Map image

Geographically, Hong Kong and Taiwan are nearer to South Korea and Japan. The carbon footprint produced through the transportation from Singapore may be another concern. Moreover, after storing those batteries inside a big compartment for several months, leaking problem may occur and pollute other clean batteries, even the container itself.

 

The last reason may be the main reason: cost. According to Final Year Report done by NUS undergraduate, the cost of disposing batteries by incineration is much cheaper, varies from 10 times to 100 times than recycling them oversea.

 

Another alternative may be proposed to start the battery-recycling programme in Singapore. May be we can find out how Hong Kong government solves the leaking problem during export, and recycle secondary (rechargeable) batteries only, as secondary batteries are more toxic than primary batteries.

 

Before that, we may have to put more effort in paper, plastics, cans and glass recycling, which is more meaningful. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, our effort is simply not enough.

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~ by bernhan on January 31, 2009.

26 Responses to “Why does Singapore not recycle batteries?”

  1. After reading this article, I just feel that I really need more information on the topic. Could you suggest some resources ?

  2. Hmmm… The resource I read is from the database of my attachment company.

    Can you list out the specific topic that you need, so that I can elaborate more?

    Happy Earth Day~

  3. [...] Image: bernhan [...]

  4. [...] Image: bernhan [...]

  5. Worcell PTE LTD has started some battery recycling programme.

  6. You said “The amount of batteries ash occupied less than 1% of the daily disposed amount in landfill” Was this figure obtained through research, or just a rough estimate?

  7. It is based on a FYP report done by NUS student. But I cannot reveal the document without any authorisation. May be it can serve as a guideline for you….

  8. Im working on a similar project as well. this report is quite informative. thanks! But, do update this report with more info if you get the appropriate permission.

  9. I don’t think that I can get the appropriate permission now, as I cannot find the softcopy of that report now. May be you can try to write to NEA waste minimisation unit for more information. Thanks~

  10. I just travelled from Taiwan. I really admire the recycling programme running in Taiwan. The recycling effort of Singapore really need more improvement. Frankly speaking, it’s hardly to find a Singaporean who has good practise or understanding on recycling.

    By the way, I remember few years ago Ikea still got a battery recycle bin. Does anymore know there’s a battery recycle bin avail in Singapore?

  11. I agree with your view on Singapore’s recycling scene. Recycling started here only a few years ago, so its still in its ‘infant’ stage. Also, there are no legislations or directives to recycle (incl batteries) yet. Other countries carry out recycling programs diligently bcoz they have rules and regulations to follow.

    Im sure thre are no dry cell recycling bins in Singapore anymore… no one is going to take the initiative to bear the costs and risks involved to ship out only a couple of 100 batteries… But, there are bins at certain computer and mobile phone dealerships and service stations where we can recycle our old laptop/ mobile phone batteries

  12. Hehe… Thanks for your replies. But, I cannot answer Way’s question. haha~

  13. Hi we just move to Singapore, as mum with 3 young kids batteries are used a lot. I’m looking for a place to recycle them. So far I think only IKEA that recycle them (not to sure if Singapore IKEA recycle them as well?) besides not only batteries that need to be recycle light bulb need to be recycle as well, especially the energy saving ones… it is something to to with the chemical that they use as well…

  14. Hi there. Im an editor for educational books. We have a chapter on recycling. Was wondering if i can use your pulau semakau aerial shot photo. Is it yours? Do email me back asap ya. Thanks!

    • Dear Asyurah, this photo is not taken by me. I have forgotten where I get this photo, since this post is 1.5 years ago. I cut it from a pdf file. I have no idea at all. Sorry for the inconveniences…

  15. Perhap, everyone should look at this recent innovative charging system that can drastically reduce our battery wastes. It was published in the Straits Times on 9th September 2010. One young dynamic Company here in Singapore invented the first primary battery charger that can fully charge up these one time use battery like alkaline and heavy duty AA and AAA battery. You can get more information from thier website : http://www.battizer.com. I went to a shop in Sim Lim Square and brought it and use it to charge up many of my alkaline batteries that I use heavily for my camera and amazingly, it did charge up pretty good.

  16. [...] is a danger of pollution through leaks from the batteries during the process. Read more about the household battery recycling problems. In view of these problems, the approach supposedly taken by NEA is to restrict the mercury [...]

  17. Great information. never knew about recycling batteries.

  18. hi, can i share this article on my blog? i copy and paste. i am concerned too…

  19. Hi, i am a student working on a project about recycling and extracting useful metals from alkaline batteries. Your article is very informative and enlightening!

  20. thank you for the assuring information. I’ve been wondering about this for a long time and have always felt discomfort throwing batteries out in the bin.

  21. Very energetic post, I liked that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?

  22. I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet people, its really really
    fastidious article on building up new website.

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