The Challenge


How might we inspire and enable communities to take more initiative in making their local environments better? read the brief


Community Recycling Centers (updated 19 Dec)

Community Recycling Centers in each town would be managed by the residents or Town Councils, and serve as a community space and platform where residents can come together to learn and participate in reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials.

Each town would have a Community Recycling Center (CRC) to complement the National Recycling Programme (NRP) and to promote community 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) participation.

The CRC would preferably be managed by the residents or Town Councils, and serve as a community space and platform where residents can come together to learn and participate in reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials. Residents and schools in the community can volunteer to run the CRC, and engage other residents to take part in the activities held at the CRC.

The CRC is a physical space (about 0.5 - 1 ha size) and includes 3 core activities:

1) Recycle

  • Bulk recycling bins for collection of common recyclables from residents, such as paper, plastics, metals, glass, clothing, electrical and electronic items (to be sold to recycling companies or sent to existing NRP contractors).
  • Collection of food waste from residents (to be composted onsite using composter machine or normal composting, or sent to anaerobic digestion plants for producing energy).
  • Collection of used cooking oil (to be sent to plants for producing biodiesel).

2) Reduce and Reuse

  • Educate residents and students about waste minimisation and recycling, with posters, hands-on activities, and site tour.
  • Collection of used furniture for repairing and refurbishing onsite (refurbished furniture are sold to residents or given to needy).
  • Tool library for the lending of common tools to residents to help them fix and repair items, and could include power, hand, wood, painting, and plumbing tools.
  • Conduct training classes on DIY skills (eg. how to repair computers and handphones, fix lighting and water systems, carpentry and home renovation skills, etc) for the residents to learn new skills and also to make a living.
  • Workshops to teach residents on upcycling and making recycled crafts for sale. They can reuse the material collected at the CRC and have access to the tools.

3) Flea Market

  • Held every weekend at the CRC to sell the refurbished furniture and recycled crafts
  • Provide platform for residents interested in selling their unwanted stuff, or to give away or exchange unwanted items with other residents.

The CRC could be operated as a social enterprise to provide jobs for needy residents in the community. Revenue would come from the sale of recyclables and refurbished furniture. Extra revenue could also come from providing advertising space to companies at the CRC.

To attract residents to bring down their recyclables to the CRC, residents would be
given credits for their recyclables and these credits could be exchanged for food and
products. The food and products could be sponsored by companies and the programme could be operated as part of a company’s corporate social responsibility activities.

In addition, the CRC could be designed as a green center with the following features:

  • Use of natural and recycled building material
  • Use of natural daylight and natural ventilation
  • Generating energy from solar panels
  • Use of energy efficient lights and appliances
  • Rainwater harvesting for non-potable usage
How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?
The CRC would serve as an educational center for teaching residents and students about waste minimisation and keeping the neighbourhood clean. Residents and schools in the community can volunteer to run the CRC, and engage other residents to take part in the activities held at the CRC. The CRC would serve as a community space and platform where residents can come together to learn and participate in reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials.
How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?
CRCs could be set up in all the towns, similar to the Community Centres.
How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?
Set up a pilot CRC at one town and try out the idea.


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Edmund Ng

November 13, 2013, 10:27AM
Good idea that can give the Karang Gunis' a run for their money. think this is a systematic approach and the same model could be activated in times of distraught and tragic events like major earthquakes and Tsunamis.

Many times, people donate only food, blankets and necessities to victims or natural disasters. Sometimes, an old working radio, hifi or TV set would also be well appreciated by those who has just lost all their stuff in an earthquake.

Edmund Ng


December 21, 2012, 17:16PM
Eugene - we're so sorry that we may have lost some of the updates to this concept over the last 72 hours - we lost the AWS server stack which included the backup and even after working through the night some updates escaped us.

We've extended the Refinement Phase to the 27th to give everyone extra time to re-upload their content and to push your concept even further - apologies again if you did lose any updates...

Rhee Jeong-ihn

December 14, 2012, 04:41AM
good idea! :-)

Nathan Maton

December 11, 2012, 19:19PM
Hi Eugene - James made a good point about about a concept I posted in concepting that may resonate with your great idea. If it makes sense or there are parts you like I just wanted to highlight it for you - visit it here:


Johan Löfström

December 10, 2012, 11:50AM
Hello. Did you see my concept proposal about using old barges for recycling collection on the riverfronts and the shorelines? Please "recycle" & "reuse" any of my ideas if you wish, for this concept :)

Eugene Tay

December 11, 2012, 04:15AM
Thanks Johan for sharing, would be keen to include the repair component.

Hao Dinh

December 10, 2012, 06:27AM
Eugene love the community recycling center idea! I thought your concept would work well with 3 others, below is my idea:

After reviewing James Robertson's "Flash Sports", Eugene Tay's "Community Recycling Center", Hao Dinh's "Dish In Dish Out" and Maria Malcus "Local Night Markets", I had the below thought on connecting the 4 concepts:

Have "flash night markets" (these are night markets that are scheduled to occur in specific communities during specific times) that will enable vendors, both from the community and from other night markets, to sell their goods. Great opportunity for community vendors to highlight their goods to their communities and allows vendors from other night markets entry to "new" customers.

The entry fee to the "flash night market" is a potluck dish. Each "flash night markets" will have a theme associated with a community issue. Once in the market, participants will be able to meet new people, try all the potluck dishes, buy items from the vendors and most importantly, contribute to organized discussions on how to resolve the community issue.

Lastly I was thinking of having an "community recycling center" at the "flash night markets". The center will educate people on reuse, recycle and reduce. Additionally people will receive "market cash" for bringing in their recyclables. The "market cash" can be used to buy products from the "flash night market". (Checkout "Delicious Recycling" in Brazil

What do you gals/guys think?

Eugene Tay

December 11, 2012, 04:29AM
Thanks Hao Dinh, could be one of the weekly events organised by the CRC together with the Pasar Malam concept

Maria Malcus

December 08, 2012, 13:49PM
Hi Eugene, I have added you to my virtual team for Pasar Malam reinvented. I think it would be great if the two concepts could somehow inspire each other (or combine).

Maybe they could combine physically or just psychologically (like encouraging people to buy local/upcycled and be generally more aware).

I am constantly surprised at how little people care about recycling in Singapore and over all I think there are 3 things missing: awareness, convenience and incentive. I would love to see if one or two of those aspects could somehow be incorporated into something that people really like (e.g. shopping or eating) so that people would gain the knowledge without actively looking for it or get a monetary or social incentive to recycle.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on it!

Meena Kadri

December 09, 2012, 22:47PM
Being big fans of collaboration – we're excited to see where your exchange of ideas might go!

Eugene Tay

December 11, 2012, 04:24AM
Thanks Maria, the Pasar Malam could be one of the weekly events organised by the CRC. Also keen to include the Tool Library concept by James at

Maybe the CRC could be renamed as Community 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Center.


December 07, 2012, 18:40PM
Eugene -- good job! Your concept made it to our NEA Challenge Shortlist. We liked that your idea was inclusive of all demographics, and allows for people to help the environment in a convenient and fun way.

Moving into Refinement, think about building out the ways in which we might incentive people to recycle, while bringing them together, perhaps in a venue like Pasar Malam -- Maria Malcus' concept ( The notion of frequency also seems important: How might you communicate and signal a regular drumbeat of recycling happenings in a local neighbourhood? Finally: Is there an educational aspect involved? Lots of inspiring ways to grow this idea! We can't wait to see what you come up with. For more tips on how to iterate and prototype your idea during the Refinement phase, read here and check this Lowdown:

Eugene Tay

December 11, 2012, 04:17AM
Thanks for the shortlist and the suggestions!!

James Robertson

December 03, 2012, 06:13AM
Hi Eugene, Lindsay, Meena. I love the mission statement of this idea that is outlined right at the outset; the collections and workshops. No doubt that a physical building could be great for establishing a permanent drop-in culture and presence. However, I wonder if a mobile service might serve the collection and community events better?

It could be like a reverse garage sale.. the bus(es) turns up with a little bit of fanfare and an all day long series of workshops/events to go with it, while people can drop in and out with their larger recyclable goods or used furniture etc..The obvious draw for residents is not having to transport their bigger/bulkier used items themselves.

Perhaps the most important thing about executing this concept would be understanding the catchment area in terms of both distance and time; I can see an occasional where people bring all of their used furniture on one day as being far more of a buzz-creator than a permanently open drop-off point, but at the same time, there is a daily need to dispose of/recycle food stuffs and packaging.

Striking the right balance between permanance and mobility to capture the biggest audience would give the events and workshops the best chance to flourish.

Eugene Tay

December 03, 2012, 06:32AM
Thanks James for your comments! Would be interesting to explore mobile or pop-up CRCs too, although it might reduce the residents' ownership of the space. Definitely something worth looking into!

James Robertson

December 11, 2012, 06:04AM
Hi Eugene.. thanks for your comment on Tools Library.. I think this 'Smart Bins' concept from the San Franciso brainstorming session would complement both ideas really well:

Meena Kadri

December 11, 2012, 07:40AM
Great discussion guys! Eugene – if you'd like to acknowledge the collaborative input of others in the evolution of your concept, you have the option to add them to your Virtual Team. Just hit the Update Entry button up there on the right of your post & scroll down to the Virtual Team area. We dig folks who design better, together!

Lindsey Zouein

December 02, 2012, 13:25PM
Eugene, I love the way you've incorporated personal, private sector, and public sector responsibilities here. And it's great to know that donated items will go on to have second lives: The vegetable oil turns into biodiesel, etc. I would love to see community champions for each recyclable materials -- people who could create awareness among restaurants, for example, about recycling used oil and the benefits for the business and the environment.

Meena Kadri

December 02, 2012, 22:01PM
Fab thoughts Eugene – and great to have you join us from on the ground in Singapore! And interesting that you raise the notion of community champions, Lindsey. That was what triggered my thinking on this concept for a previous OpenIDEO challenge: I wonder if there might be room within the CRC concept for a toolkit to support community champions?

Eugene Tay

December 03, 2012, 06:26AM
Thanks Lindsey and Meena for the comments! Would definitely be good to involve the residents in the community in the CRC, and some residents could be trained by the National Environment Agency to be community champions. The idea is to bring recycling and waste minimisation down to the community level where residents can see and tackle the problem hands-on.
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