(Photo: Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources)

Consumers should pay a deposit when they buy a drink, and this should be refunded when they return the empty bottle or container for recycling.

This was among the suggestions made by the #RecycleRight Citizens' Workgroup to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), which is studying the feasibility of these suggestions.

The workgroup has suggested ways to support the deposit refund scheme, such as identifying convenient collection points, providing tangible refunds and educating the public on how it works.

The scheme was among nine proposals by the workgroup, which comprised more than 40 citizens from diverse backgrounds. They came together for a month – from Sept 21 to Oct 20 – to work on ways to improve recycling in Singapore households.

The blue recycling bin might also be redesigned as the workgroup proposed that the bin should have a transparent panel, eye-level notices, tailored lids with deposit holes and a fixed location.

MEWR and the National Environment Agency (NEA) will work with the group to pilot new designs for the blue bin.

MEWR said: "We agree with the recommendation to have eye-level notices. NEA recently refreshed the recycling bin labels to further raise awareness about the right recycling behaviours. The new labelling includes a 'No Food. No Liquids' sign at eye level.

"The transparent window is an interesting and novel idea for the recycling bin. More behavioural research is needed to determine if tailored lids with deposit holes will be effective in improving recycling behaviours. The deposit holes may discourage residents from recycling as more time is needed to deposit the recyclables."

Households will also have to do their part, with the proposal for food waste to be segregated by each household into plant and non-plant-based waste, so that it can be recycled accordingly.

Plant-based waste can be recycled at community compost hubs while non-plant-based types can be recycled through biodigesters in the neighbourhood.

It will be mandatory for large commercial and industrial food waste generators to segregate their food waste from 2024.

MEWR said: "We will explore encouraging more households to segregate their food waste over time."

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor was at a MEWR discussion at Temasek Shophouse yesterday to discuss the workgroup's recommendations, which the ministry has compiled into four pilot projects.

Dr Khor said: "We hope to formalise the four pilot projects and their scope of work by the first quarter of next year. We will trial these projects, evaluate their outcome before deciding if some of these initiatives could be scaled up."

Written by Sue-Ann Tan for The Straits Times.