The ultimate guide to using recycling bins in Singapore

Although i’m pretty embarrassed to admit this, but i find recycling quite confusing at times. As much as I try to conscientiously practice the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, most of the time I just simply don’t know how. Take this common scenario as an example: I finished drinking my bubble tea and I walk towards the bins. I see 3 recycling bins (cans/plastic/paper) and a general waste bin. Does this go under plastic or does it fall under general waste?


recycling in singapore

photo credit:

If you are anything like me and have trouble deciding what can or cannot be recycled, don’t worry! The boxgreen squirrels have done some thorough research on recycling in Singapore, and whipped up an easy and complete guide for all of you.

(Scroll all the way down to download the printable recycling guide we created!)


More than 1/3 of the recycled waste ends up in the landfill

That’s right, our effort to recycle waste has indeed gone to waste. And that is only because most of us are not recycling the proper way!

In Singapore, recycled waste are sorted into paper/plastic/metal/glass after collection. Unfortunately, a high percentage (30-50%) of the recycled waste is deemed unfit due to various reasons, such as food contamination. 🙁
To help more people recycling their waste correctly, we have collated a list of common confusing items (and the right way of dealing with them):


Plastic bags

Yes, plastic bags and plastic containers are recyclable! Just remember empty out everything from them before depositing into the recycle bin. (Also, remember to bring your own shopping bag when you head out as to minimise usage of plastic bags! ^^)


Glass or plastic jars

Basically, all jars – from cosmetic jars to food jars, from plastic jars to metal jars, are recyclable. However, they also have to be emptied out first! If necessary, you might even want to rinse them before recycling. Leftover foods or chemicals could contaminate the materials, and obstruct the recycling process.


Tetra Paks (e.g., packet drinks)

recycle drinks

Many countries does not have the resources to recycle tetrapacks – but thankfully it is possible in Singapore. Similarly, all tetra paks have to be emptied out, and preferably rinsed before recycling.


Pizza Boxes

Paper is amazing at absorbing oil, which makes it the perfect material for pizza boxes! However, this is also why they cannot be recycled. The oil in the box impedes the process of recycling, and the pizza leftovers will attract pests.


Only 100% paper can be recycled

This includes white/coloured paper, newspapers, cardboard, magazines, phone books, mail, paper bags, etc. However, objects made with a combination of paper and other materials are very difficult to recycle. For instance, plastic-lined paper such as potato chips bag and biscuit packaging should not be deposited for recycling. Also, do remove all waxed paper, photographs, and anything containing styrofoam!



Have plenty of clothes you’ve outgrown or gotten sick of? You are welcomed to recycle them! Shoes, on the other hand, cannot be recycled.


Soft toys

Nope, stuffed toys cannot be recycled in Singapore. This also includes your cushions, pillows and mattresses. The fabric will rip in the process of recycling and all the stuffings will create an elaborate mess. Instead of recycling them, you can consider donating them if they are still in good condition. If not, they’ll probably have to go into the trash (sadly).
For a more detailed list of what can or cannot be recycled, click here to download this printable guide we created just for you. Print it and paste it at where you sort your trash!
recycling in singapore


Still unsure if some specific items can or cannot be recycled? Take a photo of the item and post the photo on this Facebook page, and NEA would help you out. 🙂

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