Collaboration - Zero Waste Testbed Initiative

The Zero Waste Testbed Initiative is organised by NUS and South West Community Development Council (South West CDC) to empower and support youths in the co-creation of innovative solutions towards zero waste and circular economy through test-bedding of proof-of-concepts within the NUS campus.

This is an opportunity for teams to obtain up to $10,000 in project funding and mentorship by industry and government practitioners in the implementation of their ideas.

Second Edition: Designing for Habit Change [EXTENDED TO 6 JULY 2022]

Project Topics

1. Design for Recycle Right: Zero Contamination

The Recycle Right bins with behaviourally-informed design have shown to be effective in getting people to recycle right, with contamination rates of plastic bottle recycling bin reducing by more than half in both a campus and public space (shopping mall) setting. The bins have the following key features:

  1. A clear display with actual non-recyclables that highlights concretely what should not be placed inside the recycling bins
  2. A slidable opening lid that adds friction to reduce mindless, habitual throwing of non-recyclables
  3. A transparent bin body that showcases the accumulated clean recyclables

The current bins are made of mostly powder-coated mild steel, except for the display and body which are made of acrylic. This design and materials have contributed to its aesthetic look, but its cost is higher than that of plastic. However, the production of plastic bins requires a high upfront cost of a plastic mould.

With the objective of retaining the key features/intentions of the bins that have resulted in its behavioural efficacy, how might a new bin be designed (e.g. innovative design to reduce material use or alternative materials) to be implemented in more premises (e.g. schools) (i) at a lower production cost and/or (ii) drive the contamination rate towards zero?

2. Designing for Reusable Habit in F&B Outlets
3. Behavioural Education for Recycling Right from Young

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to individuals or groups
  • All group members must be 17 – 35 years old
  • At least one of the group members must be a Singaporean or Permanent Resident
  • At least one of the group members must be a prospective student, full-time student or alumni of NUS (eligible upon receipt of offer of admission for prospective NUS students and up to one year after graduation for NUS alumni)
  • At least one of the group members must attend the briefing session on the programme on 18 June 2022 (Sat). For those that did not manage to attend the briefing session, please email Ms Tan Mei Ling ( and Ms Mindy Ong (
  • Projects must have at least one project partner by the project pitching session on 6 August 2022 (Sat)
  • Project must be:
    1. Addressing one of the above project topics
    2. Implemented in the South West District (to check if the location falls within the South West District, visit and insert the postal code under ‘District Information’ at the bottom of the webpage)

How to Apply

Interested applicants are to and submit a summary of their project idea (maximum 1000 words) that contain all the following details:

  1. Project problem statement and intended behavioural and environmental outcome(s) for specific context that the project would be implemented in;
  2. Background of the team member(s) (e.g. discipline, interest) and reason for application;
  3. Project description, including the approach and how the project could engender behavioural change and contribute to the community; and
  4. Overview and comparison of existing similar initiatives implemented in Singapore.

Please email your summary in Word document or PDF format to Ms Tan Mei Ling ( and Ms Mindy Ong ( with the subject “[Zero Waste Testbed Initiative Second Edition] <insert project name>” by 6 July 2022 (Wednesday).

After which, applicants may be invited to share their project idea with the organisers. Shortlisted applicants will then further develop their proposal for a pitching session and obtain a project partner, with support from an assigned project mentor.

The table below summarises the estimated timeline:

Awarded Projects

First Edition
Recycling Right: RecyClean

Recycling Right: Publicity to Reduce Recycling Contamination Rate [completed]


RecyClean team members: (from left to right) Colin Chan Wei Hua (Business and Information Systems), Gillian Yeong (Linguistics and Sociology), Yak Jun Yan James (Business and Information Systems), Cindy Evangeline (Industrial Design), and Ho Yi Jing (Industrial Design)

The team, RecyCLEAN, aimed to reduce recycling contamination rate through an evidence-based publicity campaign, comprising large wall publicity decals and Instagram educational campaign. This was implemented in UTown in September 2021 and resulted in an overall 10% decrease in recycling contamination rate. Read more about the project here.


Promoting Reuse: UGo
Waste to Resource: EcoEnzyme
Waste to Resource: Brambe
Upcycling Edition
Upcycling Plastic & Glass Waste: Project Ariel

Upcycling Plastic & Glass Waste to Floating Eco-Gardens [in progress]

Project Ariel Team Member, Ibnur Rashad (Engineering Science Alumnus) [left], had received Gold Award at Taiwan International Invention Show & Technomart. Other team members include Ong Kok Chung (Environmental Engineering), Tan Yi Han (Engineering Science Alumnus), Sullivan Wang and Ashton Law
The team, Project Ariel, aims to create floating eco-garden modules by upcycling plastic and glass waste. The plastic waste provides buoyancy to the modules, while glass waste is shredded to form the substrate for the garden. The team is also engaging the community to learn about the upcycling process and build their own floating eco-garden modules. Read more about the project here.