Plastics Recycling

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Recycle

In Singapore, 832,200 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2013 and the recycling rate is 11%. Plastic waste, especially plastic bottles and containers, are usually sorted, baled and exported overseas for recycling. There are also plastic recycling companies in Singapore that sort and process plastic waste into small pellets to be used as feedstock for making plastics products.

Let’s take a closer look at plastics recycling:

1. Types of Plastics for Recycling

Plastic waste can be divided into pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic waste. Pre-consumer plastic waste are plastic scraps generated by companies during the manufacturing of products. These plastics are usually easier to recycle as they are clean and homogeneous.

Post-consumer plastic waste are generated by the consumers after use. These plastics are usually not favored by recyclers as they are difficult to collect, easily contaminated with food, and not homogeneous.

There are many types of plastics in the market. To make sorting and recycling easier, The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in the United States developed the SPI resin identification code to provide a standard marking code for consumers to identify the main types of plastics.

It is quite common to find this identification code on plastic bottles and products. There are seven types of plastic codes:

1. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) – Used for water bottles, soft drink and cooking oil bottles, and meal trays.

2. HDPE (High density polyethylene) – Used for milk and detergent bottles.

3. PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) – Used for plastic pipes, food trays, shrink wrap, and bottles.

4. LDPE (Low density polyethylene) – Used for plastic bags and bin liners.

5. PP (Polypropylene) – Used for bottle caps, margarine tubs, and meal trays.

6. PS (Polystyrene) – Used for food containers, egg cartons, vending cups, plastic cutlery, and protective packaging for electronic goods.

7. OTHER – Includes any other plastic that does not fall into the above categories.


2. Why Recycle Plastics

By recycling plastics, we reduce the environmental impacts associated with the production and disposal of plastics. The production of plastics requires significant quantities of non-renewable fossil fuels and according to Waste Online:

It is estimated that 4% of the world’s annual oil production is used as a feedstock for plastics production and an additional 3-4% during manufacture.

Plastics are non-biodegradable and takes hundreds of years to break down. When they are landfilled, they take up landfill space. When they are incinerated, they release carbon dioxide and potential toxic gases such as dioxins.

3. The Plastics Recycling Process

At the plastics recycling plant, plastic waste are sorted according to their type and colour manually, by optical sensors or by a flotation process. The sorted plastics are shredded, washed and then melted to produce strands of plastics. The strands are cut into small pellets, which are used as feedstock for making new plastics products.

Watch this animation video on the plastics recycling process from RecycleBank:


4. Recycled Plastic Products

Depending on the type of plastics, the recycled plastic pellets can be used to make a wide range of plastic products such as plastic bags, containers, trays, pipes, CD cases, garden furniture, carpets, and clothing.

5. Plastics Recycling in Singapore

In Singapore, 832,200 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2013 and the recycling rate is 11%. Pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic waste are usually collected by the plastics collectors and traders, and through the recycling programmes.

For pre-consumer plastics, there are plastic recycling companies in Singapore that sort and process these waste into small pellets to be used as feedstock for making plastics products. Pre-consumer plastic waste are also sorted and exported overseas for recycling.

Common types of post-consumer plastics that are collected include PET and HDPE bottles and containers, which are sorted, baled and exported overseas for recycling.

6. Collectors, Traders and Recycling Companies for Plastics

To find a recycling collector or someone who wants your plastic waste, check out NEA’s list of collectors and traders.

For companies, you can use the online business waste exchange, Waste is not Waste, to find someone who wants your waste.

7. What Can I Do

You can recycle plastics through the various recycling programmes at home, in school and your office, or through the public recycling bins. But before you do so, remember to Reduce and Reuse your plastic waste.

Related Posts


98 Responses to “Plastics Recycling”
  1. Fiona Neo says:

    Not all materials are easily understood. Recycle bin normally put pictures like drinking bottle, glass, newspaper as guildlines. How about egg plastic container, small ones like yakult drink bottle, or even shampoo container.. is it recyceable?
    Maybe town council can help with its magazine with a series of feature on all this so that more people are aware of it.. giving more examples from our daily usage of grocery stuff what can be placed in the bin

  2. Sam says:

    Hi, in terms of plastic bag, is there any fully bio-degradable ones available in the market? I dont see people start using plastic bag, thus the only solution i see is to use 100% bio-degradable plasitc bag…

  3. Sam says:

    Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for the reply but why is it that these 100% biodegradable plastic bags are not very popular? Is there any tax incentive if a company adopt any green initiative?

  4. Edward says:

    Hi Eugene,
    Is there any online portal or website that provides information on how the overuse of plastic affects specifically Singapore?

  5. ET says:

    I agree with Eugene that most plastic bags are still going to the incinerators in Singapore, as we have a relatively good waste management system in place in Singapore. However, not all 100% of those litters will be correctly disposed off, there will still be a percentage of plastic litters going around in the environment.

    For eg; We all know that Singapore is well known for tourism. If the tourists bring the non-degradable plastic bags or packaging back to their country and anyhow dispose them (in drains, on the road, into the ocean etc), what will happen? That will add on to their level of ‘White Pollution’ even though it is not happening here in SG. Should we also spent a thought on that aspect?

    There’re many so-called 100% degradable bags or packaging in the market right now. Typically, you will see Starch based or Hydro-degradable type (made of Polylactic Acid PLA), and the Oxo-biodegradable type. What are the differences between these two types and how can consumer know which one should be preferred?

    Another point to note, even though if the plastic bags or packaging have prints that mentioned “This is a 100% Biodegradable Bag”, how do we know if the statement is true about that particular bag? We have seen bags in the market which have that sentence print but upon 3rd party testing, it didn’t break down at all… interesting? 🙂

    So, to all consumers and fellow earth-lovers, choose wisely.


    – ET

  6. Ange says:

    I have a bunch of bottles left from the liquid soap, shampoo and insecticide I bought. Is there a place to discard them or they are considered too ‘toxic’ for recycling?

  7. Archie Hill says:

    we always put garden furnitures made of hardwood in our backyard garden..”~

  8. Mr Mubarak says:

    hi there! im doing a project for a unit regarding plastic recycle and environmental awareness. Part of my progress requires the estimated price for the whole plastic recycling process per annum. i would really appreciate if u can give me the quotation, this would really help a lot in my progress… thank you.

  9. pat says:

    So, I want to recycle my used plastics, and I dedicate a bin in my house for that, but where do I go to ensure that the plastic I collected really go into recycling? There is a recycling bin downstairs where I live, but the 3 bins are always rummaged through by an uncle who collects these as well (I’m not sure where he brings them to).

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Pat, if you’re staying in HDB estates, you can use the recycling bag or bin provided by the recycling collectors. The plastic items collected will be sent to the recycling plant for sorting and likely to be exported for recycling.

  10. pat says:

    thanks eugene.. however, this particular uncle will always get to the bins first before the collectors, so i’m not entirely sure they reach the recycling plant… Anyhow, I’m still going to take the effort to separate my trash

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Pat, even if the uncle gets it first, he will likely sell it to the traders who will send it to the recycling plant or sell it directly to overseas.

  11. Dorothy Yap says:

    I am pissed and sad with the recycling programme set by gov agencies that come every month end for exchange. Get to know since May 2010 then I start try to collect all from my home plastic … I have a lot ranging from milk, detergents, hand cream bottles etc. I hv asked my helper to wash clean and dry up. But then the condense will built up in it. I asked my brother to collect all the ice bags and we have alot … I even drive all the way from my home with all the recycle stuffs in my van. I even threw some super dirty recycl stuffs away. I took some out from my van and went up to them and said I have alot coming. At first, she said plastic bags cannot be recycle, I told her according to the web that can be recycle. Then she said oh plastic with water cannot be recycle. I told her fine as to let her minus out the water weight as much as she like but she still say NO TO ME. Hello … I have so many plastic bottles with some hv condense so meaning cannot be recycle. PLASTIC WITH WATER CANNOT BE RECYCLE????? So meaning all the plastic throw inside the bins with water cannot be recycle??? Is the campaign just for show … my hubby actually say that I am going to waste my effort and that proven he is right. He is simply laughing at my hard work. Frankly speaking … moving around the plastic and keeping them clean is also very tiring. Or because I am young … the exchange is only for old people. Is just for fun for god sake. I had become a busybody and hard up for the biscuit which cost only maybe max S$2/- for a 20kg load. I have more than 20kg load … that is no fun to move the stuffs around. Sad to say I have to move all to my van again. Effort is all being wasted …

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Dorothy, the monthly exchange is conducted by the recycling collectors and not really a government campaign. Unfortunately, some collectors are more selective on the type of recyclables that they accept.

  12. Dorothy Yap says:

    The campaign is really a joke

  13. zhenwei says:

    hey hi,
    Does anyone knows if those type of plastic sheets that covers our magazines, toys, newly bought files, etc can be recycled? If yes, who and how can the plastic sheets be passed to? If anyone have an answer, do email me, thanks! =)

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Zhenwei, yes the plastic sheets can be recycled. Just put them into your recycling bags/bins under the National Recycling Programme.

  14. Dorothy Yap says:

    Hi! Eugene … I think is either by RC or Town Council … with the recycling ppl. I am pretty sure stuffs I collected can be recycle. Like shampoo / detergent / cosmestic bottles, water bottles, soft drink bottles, moisturer … in my household can generate so many plastic stuffs. The effort is not enough … I did not know that Tzuchi life need the recycle stuffs. I dumped all at that the dumpster after a few days I wrote in. Even the sweepers and cleaners also give me the dirty looks like what the hell. I have abt 50kg+ of plastic and I already weight them all. I done up so nicely too. I called some so called recycle companies up … sad to say those listed in NEA website are not plastic collectors. Only 1 is and he said they only collect from industrial … fed up. I even offer to send in, he said no. I think I have done my part and sad to say is in so much of my efforts all are in denial. We wash and dry the plastic and if the plastic is going to form condense vapour what can we do? Really dun tell me those send to the rubbish incinerator are very clean and without even a drop of water. I think is a pushing me away from here to there and there to no place. So if that is what so about the campaign of recycle … dun you think is a joke? The recycle bin is too small … for god sake is alway full and if rain that is so much water in it. Bleah tell me about no water to be suppose to be in the plastic … ha joke right and downright unethical. The effort is starting from May … till Oct and frankly is not easy … I even rode in my brother and aunt. My mum called me crazy.

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Dorothy, try to see whether there are Tzu Chi recycling points near your place. They are doing a better job than those recycling collectors.

  15. XioNgmEow JieJie says:

    Does #5 Plastic (Polypropylene) gets recycle seperately with other plastic material?

  16. chellam senthil kumar says:

    hai sir,i am working in singapore everdy manufauring pt ltd,

  17. XioNgmEow JieJie says:

    We do have a bin for recycling stuff but unfortunately, it’s not one of those that seperates paper from plastc, cans,etc. It’s one big bin whereby anyone with recycling items may throw in it. Do you think this works? At the end of the day, will there be someone separating them? What do you think?

  18. Nadya says:

    I would like to know whether those plastic containers used for takeaway food need to be completely cleaned before i can put them in the recycling bin. It’s not easy to remove all the oil from these plastic containers, i usually have to wash them at least twice with detergent before the oil completely gets washed off. I began to wonder if all the detergent i use and all the water i waste to wash them may do more damage than if i just throw the oiler containers away, but my mother says it’s not necessary to have these containers completely cleaned before we put them in the recycling bin, just a cursory rinse to have the food particles washed away will do. is that true?

    • Eugene says:

      Hi Nadya, would be good to just rinse those containers that are not too oily. For containers that are too hard to wash off the food and oil stains, better to dispose of them.

  19. steven YEO says:

    I have very clean and unused 90,000 PVC plastic files for recyclying. Please advise which compamy will buy my PVC plastic files? HELP! urgent please. thanks

    • Eugene says:

      Hi steven, you can list your material at Waste is not Waste, our new online business waste exchange – We connect businesses and organisations that generate waste materials with those who want the materials, thus helping both parties save time and money while helping the environment.

  20. samsiah says:

    Hi…is there anyone knows where to buy recycle detergent bottle about 250 ml? We would like to purchase for our school project. If do please email me. Thanks

  21. Gan Jia Jin says:


    I need 50-60 plastic bottles (recycled ones) with nozzles of about 250 ml for my school project. Could you tell me where I can buy them? Need them soon.

  22. Hendry says:

    Hi, i am wondering where can I get a waste plastic that has been sorted and baled and ready for exporting? thank

  23. HAS says:

    Hi! Just wondering, when I recycle plastics, I did not separate them according to their number. So, when the recycling company collects them, do they separate the plastics manually or mechanically?

  24. Maverick says:

    Hi, I’m aware that there are many portals for plastic wastes to be generated, but what are some of the top contributors of such wastes in Singapore?

  25. Maverick says:

    P.S. May I also know some of the vital statistics as to the percentage of such waste to the total amount of plastic wasted.

  26. Neo Jing Ci says:

    Hi Eugene! Can you tell me what are the costs of recycling plastic waste (especially plastic bags) in Singapore! I’ll like to have the link (if there’s one). Thanks!

  27. Neo Jing Ci says:

    Ok, thanks!

  28. Li ting says:

    Plastic wastage has resulted in many harmful impacts such as to human and the environment. I would like to know if there are any primary or secondary data to show these harmful impacts have taken a toll on singapore?? i am a jc student currently doing PW(project work) and need some statistics:))

  29. Ding KS says:

    Please advise me on how how schools can recycle plastics. Which company will want to collect used plastic bottles?

    Thank you.

  30. BH Goh says:

    Are there any companies in Singapore having technology in making products from recycled high temp resistant engineering plastics? I have a few hundred tons of such plastics collected from electronics companies over the years and if they can be used to make weather resistant benches, stools, fences, walk paths etc for our parks and playgrounds, we can help save lots of trees. The technologies already exist in Europe & elsewhere but it would be too costly to ship out the materials to them and then bring back the products into Spore again. Hence I am looking for a local company that may be able to help me.

  31. Desmond says:

    Hi Eugene, I’m currently doing a project on the wastage of plastic. I was wondering if you have the statistics on how much secondary school students contribute to the wastage of plastic in Singapore. I hope you would be willing to share this statistics with us. Thank you and your help will be greatly appreciated

    • Eugene Tay says:

      @Desmond, we don’t have statistics on how much secondary school students contribute to the wastage of plastic in Singapore.

  32. Jasmine says:

    Hi, i would like to ask what measures do you think people should adopt to reduce the plastic bottle usage on the whole? because, it is important for people to realise that ultimately, it is the reduction in the total number of plastic bottles that we ‘waste’ which will affect the total number of plastic bottles wasted, considering the fact that only 9% of plastic bottles here are recycled.

  33. Jia Yi says:

    Hi, i would like to ask if plastic phone cases could be recycled? and what is it the amount of waste generated from people discarding used phone cases. I have tried to contact the plastic collectors at, however are still unable to get a response.

  34. Lavender says:

    hello, do you know where i can find plastic or metal sellers in sg? for example plastic bottle, straw. we need it to make a eco-lamp.

    • Hi , we starting our plastic recycling plant in Singapore on Jan 2016 ,
      We would be buying in all kinds of used and waste plastics to recycle .

      Kindly in future help us with our operation for clean environment .

      Pls keep us informed and contact us for the waste products (plastic , aluminum cans )

      8585 1786

  35. Lavender says:

    Hello, i am interested in this PET bottle found on your website.

    what is your min. selling price for 30,000 bottles at one time?

  36. Mohamed Roushdy says:

    Dear sir,
    I am really interested in this science, and i would really try to turn these ideas in to business field.
    We are in Egypt have a lack to understand the needs to start up a production line of plastic recycling for bags and water bottles.
    Do you have any suggestions?
    can we invite you in Egypt to consult us for our needs?

    Mohamed Roushdy

  37. steven yeow says:


    I just stumbled on 600 tons of assorted waste plastic in JB. They have asked me to help sell it off. Can you offer me some info as to how I can do this?

    Viewing of the waste can be arranged.


  38. Qi Xuan says:

    hi eugene, im a JC pw student. do you have any idea about the proportion of plastic bottles that are utilised by households and their significance?

  39. jazeer says:

    Hi eugene,i am a researcher on solid waste management in India ,because of the political parties involvement in our government it is very difficult to introduce any type of waste management project in our state.i have a business proposal for doing the all muncipal plastic waste into valuable product(includes all types of plastic waste).i wish to do my service in one of the powerful country.can you direct me to start a business project for plastic waste in singapore.what is the financial and infra support sources available in singapore for doing this.

  40. Florence Heng says:

    I got about 500 brand new small plastic containers (HDPE 2). wanted to give away. Anyone interested please call me at 6496 9881 or HP: 9483 9288

  41. Teo says:

    Hi Eugene,
    where can I get the list of recycle company that buy the used plastic bottles?

  42. Jen says:

    Hi Eugene,
    Can woven polypropylene & polyethylene recycle? If yes, do you have the contact for the recycle plant in Singapore?

  43. Jans says:

    Hi Eugene,
    My company got about 7000 pcs (250kg) of unused plastic trays and bags meant for packing machine parts to be dispose off. Can it be sold as plastic waste to any recycling company? Thanks.

  44. fancy cherono says:

    im intetested with starting waste recycling company here in my country can i get visit recycling company in singapore n join waste management programmes?

  45. Nelson says:

    I am looking for partneship inthe area of recycling(plastic, PET, Paper, aluminium etc ) and waste management… [email protected] or +244938776670

  46. Grace says:

    Hi Eugene,
    Do we need to clean the plastics before recycling? The other day, I saw a dirty fruit juice cup in the recycle bin and was wondering if it’s ok to throw used plastic disposables (after drinking) into recycling bins or should they go to the trash?

  47. Goh says:

    I was travelling in northern Europe 3 months ago and these countries encourage recycling of PET containers through a collaboration with the manufacturers and the supermarkets. All PET bottles are manufactured with a barcode which would indicate the amount of reimbursement the recycler would get if the bottle us being recycled. The supermarkets installs recycle machines at their premise and act as collection points. Customers pay a premium for drinks packed in PET bottles and then would be reimbursed when they recycle the bottles by returning them to the recycle machines during their shopping trips. The machines read off the barcodes for the reimbursements (ranges between 1 to 3 knoners depending sizes) and issues a ticket on the total reimbursements. The recycler can then use the ticket to offset their purchases at the supermarkets or receive cash from the cashiers.
    We see immigrants making a living out if such system by collecting empty PET bottles on the streets each night and bringing bags if bottles to these machines for reimbursements every morning. Kind of killing 2 birds with one stone, making non-recyclers pay for the immigrants to clean up the streets.
    Incorporating such system in Singapore would build a habit to recycle waste.
    I would suggest to bring this movement further on used books thru a collaboration between MOE AND MOENV. For a start, MOE shd monitor the unnecessary printing of new editions of textbooks where updates are irrelevant. Schools can have students bring back their used text books and assessment books at the end of each year to pass on text books to students to use them for the following year free of charge. For books which are not taken up, they could be collected by MOENV to be recycled.

  48. Shirley says:


    What types of plastic waste can’t be recycled in Singapore? Based on the codes above, which ones to avoid?

  49. Ann says:


    We are expecting to collect about 30,000 – 40,000 plastic drinking bottles this weekend after an event. And we are looking for company to take back these loose plastic bottles for recycling. They would be packed in trash bags.

    However, so far no company from NEA List of collectors is taking them. ANy advise on this?

    Please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

    Thank you.

  50. Aakash Patel says:

    Hello Sir,
    This Is Aakash From India.We are plastic recycler in india.Particular Pet Bottle scrap.We Are Looking to establish recycle plant in singapore.Is there anything you can assist us in this case???

  51. bert says:

    hi i need to buy many use pvc pipes long or short to fill a pond of 50 metre diameter
    please advise where to buy it
    for prawning frys

  52. Jamal says:

    Dear Eugene , is there any plastic recycling and crushing plant in Singapore ? We have some outsource company looking to purchase plastic pet crushed . Pls tel us the company location to approach .thank you [email protected]

  53. A Petek G. says:

    What is the type of plastic waste that ends up in landfill in Singapore? How much of it is thermoplastics? I appreciate your answer.

  54. heng says:


    Just to create awareness on the options available to dispose used Styrofoam in Singapore:

    1) Bin Centres (issue of taking up space as well as environmental concerns)
    2) Styrofoam recycling facility at:

    Hao Wei International Pte Ltd
    60 Benoi Road #01-10
    Singapore 629906
    Tel: 62643811
    Email: [email protected]

  55. Shashwat Narain says:


    Can you tell me how much cost is associated into recycling the waste plastic in each category. If virgin plastic costs less, then companies would prefer buying them from suppliers instead of recycled ones. Can you give an estimate on the cost part?

  56. heng says:


    A blog started pertaining to the recycle of polystyrene (PS) in Singapore.

    Feedbacks are Welcome.


  57. Ri says:

    A local Singaporean company has recently decided to help householders reduce plastic bottle waste by allowing consumers to reuse their cleaning bottles to refill with concentrated cleaning products.

    Think it is a great Singaporean initiative and a good one to check into 🙂

  58. Heng says:

    Dear All

    This is a repeat message. Help the environment through recycling big Styrofoam packaging or fruit & vegetable boxes at our facility.

    Go to


  59. Lawrence says:

    Plastics and food are always hand in hand. From plantation to the table you will find plastic and food side by side. Singapore disposed 791,000 tons of food and 822,200 tons of plastic and only managed to recycled around 10% in 2016. In waste bins the food and plastic will be side by side. Its almost impossible to segregate them for example to recycle the food waste into feed for animal or fertiliser. No animal wants to eat feed with plastic bits in it neither do farmers like plastic in their plantations from the fertilisers. And of course plastic recycling companies don’t like to have to wash soiled plastics. Meanwhile everyone knows the familiar stink when a rubbish truck goes by with rotting food waste in it.

    Is there a solution? As long we just sit and lament the problem remains. For starters please do not waste food. Always ask for smaller portions.

  60. Li says:


    Do you have any example for the post-consumer plastic type that can be recycled locally in Singapore?

  61. jan_yo says:

    The link to NEA’s list of plastic recyclables leads to an error. Can you provide a list or refer a trust able vendor?

  62. Keesha says:

    Hello:) can we throw plastic packagings in the big blue recycling bins? Like those kind that are used to pack fruits n veggies in supermarkets and also plastic packagings from things like oats. And also, there are no bulk bin stores in Singapore, right?

  63. EDM says:

    We are looking at purchasing used plastic bottles for a project like the ones attached in this webpage, could you assist in letting us where we can find or get these?

  64. Teguh Iw says:

    stop using plastic. this is the most difficult pollutant to handle.

  65. Jeremiah says:

    Looking to start plastic waste recycled lumber, is there anyone to help me out on this?

  66. Carolin says:

    Hi, We are planning for an earth day activities where our colleagues can participate. If we decide to go for plastics bottle recycling event, where or who can we contact to collect/deposit the bottles collected?


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] How does plastic waste get recycled? Paraphrasing Zero Waste SG’s great guide to recycling plastic, […]

Add New Comment

Tell us what you're thinking.