4 'sheds' stored with reusable tools set up to help with beach clean-ups

Co-painted by Institute of Technical Education student volunteers and local street artists, the four CleanPods also display messages on ways to keep Singapore clean. (PHOTOS: National Parks Board, Public Hygiene Council)

SINGAPORE — Four colourful community “sheds” containing reusable litter picking tools have been set up across three parks in Singapore in a bid to reduce waste and complement efforts by volunteer groups to clean up beaches.

Located near washing and trash collection points as well as toilets, these “sheds” - dubbed CleanPods - come with reusable tools such as garden carts, metal tongs, buckets, weighing scales and sieves, said the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) and National Parks Board (NParks) in a joint statement on Wednesday (17 July).

The four CleanPods at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, East Coast Park, and Pasir Ris Park bear messages on ways to keep Singapore clean. They were co-painted by Institute of Technical Education student volunteers and local street artists.

These locations have been identified based on the frequency of existing clean-ups and the demand for tools to support these activities, said the authorities.

Three more CleanPods are expected to be set up at Changi Beach Park and East Coast Park by the year-end, with more to be introduced in parks across Singapore in 2020, said the PHC and NParks.

There are plans to include gardening tools at some of the spaces in these parks for use by volunteer gardeners.

To use the tools in the CleanPods, members of the public have to register for beach clean-ups on the PHC’s website.

Challenging to clear flotsam at beaches

While beaches are cleaned four times a week and twice daily, it remains “extremely challenging” to remove flotsam entirely from the coastal areas, more so during the monsoon seasons, the authorities noted.

Last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) collected over 2,000 tonnes of flotsam from East Coast Park, with half of it during the Southwest monsoon season, when tides washed large volumes of flotsam onto the coastal areas.

In addition to beach cleaners, more volunteer groups are involved in beach clean-ups, according to statistics recorded by the PHC, which coordinates the schedule for such clean-ups, and the NEA.

For instance, more than 2,000 beach clean-ups took place at recreational beaches from 2016 to 2018. This worked out to an average of over 700 beach clean-ups a year, involving over 35,000 participants.

“This number is expected to rise based on the trending records. The move to introduce CleanPod is timely as more beach clean-ups are being initiated by schools, private companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs),” said the joint statement.

The authorities noted that existing methods of carrying out clean-ups could contribute to waste.

For instance, some groups may buy new litter picking tools, such as single-use trash bags, plastic gloves and wet wipes, to use during clean-ups. These items are often discarded along with the trash collected, said the authorities.

“As the CleanPods help to facilitate beach clean-ups, we strongly encourage clean-up organisers and groups to utilise them and push ahead together with us on this journey of keeping Singapore truly clean,” said PHC chairman Edward D’Silva.

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