SINGAPORE: Up until recently, Ms Rachel Seah’s household of five only produced about two to three plastic bags of waste a day.
“We’re usually out of the house, so we don’t produce a lot of rubbish,” she told CNA.
But that has almost doubled after the “circuit breaker” started, with most of the extra waste coming from food packaging.
Circuit breaker measures, which kicked in on Apr 7, stipulate that most Singapore residents should remain at home, except to carry out essential activities such as grocery shopping and exercising.
“Usually we cook at home, and we don’t really buy food outside. But now with the circuit breaker, my parents would buy breakfast for themselves in the morning,” said Ms Seah, who lives in Hougang.
Now, their household produces up to four bags of waste a day. Other than food packaging, the family also throws away more items like tissues, empty toiletry bottles and used paper.
They have also been recycling some of their waste. Where possible, paper is reused as paper boxes, and plastics and paper are placed in recycling bins. This has been the same arrangement since before the circuit breaker, said Ms Seah.
As people's lives have temporarily changed as a result of the attempts to put a brake on the spread of COVID-19, more household refuse is being produced. Several town councils told CNA that they have observed more waste being produced during the circuit breaker - in some cases up to 40 per cent more.
Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council said its public waste collector noticed an increase of about 10 to 20 per cent more refuse collected from bin centres since Apr 7, while the Jurong-Clementi Town Council observed an increase of about 20 to 40 per cent more waste.
Nonetheless, both town councils said that the frequency of trash collection remained the same.
Recycling bins are also filling up at a faster rate, said the Jurong-Clementi Town Council, noting that recyclables are collected three times a week.
READ: From bubble tea runs to getting a haircut: What you can or cannot do under tighter COVID-19 circuit breaker rules
On the other hand, with fewer people venturing out, Jurong-Clementi Town Council said there is “considerably less litter at open spaces and void decks with less movements outdoors”.
Other town councils did not note a drastic change in estate cleanliness.
Nevertheless, the town councils have stepped up cleanliness and disinfection efforts at all HDB estates.
Frequently touched areas such as lifts, railing and lobby areas are cleaned and disinfected more often, said the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council. It added that their workers are required to put on proper protective equipment when carrying out their daily cleaning routine.
The Nee Soon Town Council, which “did not observe any drastic change in estate cleanliness” during the circuit breaker period, noted that it was taking various measures including market disinfecting works, increased cleaning of common areas and lifts, maintaining closure of estate facilities to prevent use and putting up advisories to “better safeguard” residents.
Town council staff and cleaners carry out these extra measures in addition to maintaining most of the town council’s usual services, it added.
“We would also like to encourage residents to join us in this fight against COVID-19, by refraining from littering and staying at home during this period,” said the Nee Soon Town Council.