Awhile ago I had begun writing the Kainosis™ Composting Manifesto and one of the key assertions I made was that: Singapore would need to shift to a pay-as-you-dump model one day.

Bearing in mind that Singapore may not forever retain this “pay one fee, dump all you want” system, we believe it is likely we will soon adopt the pay-as-you-dump model. On a side note, I think the government will as always introduce social safety nets to allow the poor to continue using disposal facilities for free.

Assertion 5: The Singapore government will at some point move towards a pay-as-you-dump model for waste management.

Kainosis Composting Manifesto, April 2010.

Well guess what? It’s happening sooner than expected:

Take a look at this article by Today Online. I know the title is misleading, but read further into the article and you’ll know what I mean. By the way, it’s purely by the grace of God that I came upon this article and even read it to the end. I’m not a regular reader of Today or its online variant, and I certainly am not concerned about biking lanes. So yup, God can use a stubborn fool too 😉

Higher waste-disposal fees – tied to the amount of trash collected from each household – can help reduce wastage, for example, while recycling facilities could be located at public transport nodes with rebates on public transport fares to encourage recycling.

Ong Dai Lin, Today Online, May 2010

These statements are of course in the context of a focus group called in by the URA to review it’s 2011 concept plan. Those familiar with the local landscape will know this is probably the first of many reports that will continue to escalate to the higher echelons. The irony is that the initial ideas and areas of concern were probably pointed out by the same upper brass anyway. We’ll never know, but suffice to say that the above findings will be tested and considered.

Soon, we believe more formal action will be taken, and perhaps even we at Kainosis™ have underestimated when these institutional changes will happen. It adds more meaning and perhaps even a greater sense of urgency to the work that we do. Recently, a distant relative made disparaging remarks about how we should be getting “real” jobs and doing “real” things instead of this. Mark my words, this article is the first of many that will highlight the importance of a user-experience design approach towards Singapore’s green problems. In fact, I think this section of the report puts it aptly:

Mr Tiew said land scarcity in Singapore was an obstacle, and a green spirit must first be inculcated in Singaporeans.

Ong Dai Lin, Today Online, May 2010

You see this is a concept we’ve mentioned before too – that behavior modification is not enough for this design problem. We like how the report has put it (I grudgingly accept that it’s better written), that a “green spirit must first be inculcated”. Indeed, what of the obedience of man if his heart is still rotten?

The holy grail for the situation here is a more subtle approach of behavior modification by improving perceptions and increasing motivations. All this brings us a full circle back to the need to develop a simple and unobtrusive form of composting in order to complement a holistic approach to encourage proper food separation/disposal. And then, people will naturally start composting!

Foreword, April 2010

The purpose of showing you the links and their respective dates of edits is so we can show off express once again that Kainosis is a conceptual approach to a real problem. And this concept needs to be tested on all fronts – from a technical/scientific point of view to a personal and user-centric perspective as well. We take our work seriously even though we are admittedly having lots of fun. 😉


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