Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recycling the Singapore Way - Karang Guni

Very often, we get to hear the sounds of the beeping of a bicycle-like horn around various HDB estates in Singapore. The unmistakable sound of that horn is actually the "recycling" man making his rounds around the blocks to collect any old newspapers, household gadgets or simply anything that can be recycled. We call them the Karang Guni man though I am not certain what it means exactly in Malay. All I know is that if you offer him your old newspapers, he will offer you some loose change based on the weight of the old newspapers you have sold him.

Just recently, I heard the sound of the karang guni man's horn beeping across the corridor and managed to catch his attention that I had some old newspapers that I wanted to "sell" him. In the past few months, the wife had been throwing away the old newspapers down the rubbish chute because she had no idea what to do with them.

After bringing out all the newspapers, the man tied them up with a pink rafia string and proceeded to weigh them. He announced it as "8 Kilos" and then handed me 80 cents, explaining that I get 10 cents for each kilo of newspapers.

What he did next was most unexpected. He whipped out a name card from his wallet and handed it over to me. He told me that I could call the number on that name card whenever I had something that I wanted to get rid off.

Part of the name card reads:

Specialise in collection of Old Clothing, Used/defective Home Appliances, Television, Mobile Phone, Old News Paper and Others. We also provide Removal & Transportation services.

A change of the times and definitely Uniquely Singapore! Shows how much the karang guni man has progressed since yester year.


  1. Cool. I rarely patronize them nowadays, but they are still a good help if you would like to recycle anything. Now I support the NEA national recycling programme instead. No difference I guess. :)

  2. Ha.. What is the NEA national recycling programme. This is my 2nd time using the karang guni service.

  3. Hi FF, no la the NEA National Recycling Programme is the one where they give you the big bags for you to leave your recyclables in. They usually tie up with a waste collector such as Colex or Alvatar Jacob. All you need to do is to leave it outside your door before the scheduled date. They come collect once every fortnightly. Suits me because I don't need to be there when they come but of course, also no loose change for me LOL.
    But in anycase, using either the NRP or the Karang Guni man is us doing our part for Mother Earth, hurray! :-)

  4. Hi Mister G,

    Oh you mean the big green plastic bag? I have only used it once. They have never replenished the bag ever since and I have no idea how to get my hands on it.

  5. Hi FF,

    Yeap should be that one. Mine's blue in color while I saw some other estates having yellow. Since this is nationwide I'm not surprised if your estate's green, hehe. And yalo, sometimes they do forget to replace so I will email an officer from the NEA. If you're interested I can pass you her contacts. Just leave me your email addy. :)


  6. Hi,
    I am starting a green community for the swapping, trading and reselling of your old and unwanted cables, electronic components or computer parts that are lying around your house. So I hope you guys can help by visiting the following link:-
    In the future, i hope i can include the donation of computers to communities, charities or schools.
    Do feel free to drop me an email at should you have any queries or suggestions for improvements.

  7. hey there, do you still have the contact? I want to interview him for a school assignment :)

    Do contact me thanks!

  8. Hi, can i have the contact please? I have some things to be sold away too! :)


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