Old MRT train parts get new life as benches, handrails, plant holders in HDB towns
Residents in most towns can expect to see new benches, safety handrails and plant holders made from old MRT train parts installed in their neighbourhoods.
The project aims to upcycle at least 1,500 MRT seats into benches for void decks and other communal locations, as well as 1,400 handrails that will be repurposed as safety handrails for less mobile residents.
About 900 intercom panels and LED light covers found in trains will also be converted into plant holders for use in community green spaces.
The upcycling effort is being undertaken by all 15 People's Action Party (PAP) town councils to repurpose old MRT train parts to cut waste and add to the community environment, the party announced on Sunday (July 17).
By 2025, around 14,400kg of reinforced plastics, metals and other hard-to-recycle materials from old trains will be upcycled instead of tossed in landfill sites, said PAP.
The initiative, which was officially launched with an exhibition in Woodlands Drive 50 on Sunday, will help town councils save some $275,000 in cost of amenities, said the PAP.
Project vice-chairman Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) said: "With this project, we target to relieve Semakau of about 14,400kg of waste, doing our part to prolong its lifespan."
Pulau Semakau is Singapore's only landfill and is expected to be fully filled by 2035.
Ms Soh added that MRT trains are a central pillar of the Singapore identity and said that residents will feel a sense of familiarity when they see the repurposed materials.
These upcycling ideas were adapted from survey and public consultation feedback by residents, who were asked for suggestions on how old parts from trains could be reused.
Ms Soh told The Straits Times that more forms of upcycled amenities may be rolled out in the future.
She said: "We will look at how viable and suitable these suggestions are and how they can be used, depending on each town council."
She added: "For Marsiling-Yew Tee, we've targeted most of the studio apartments, where there are a lot of seniors. While waiting for lifts or vehicles, those with mobility issues can use the benches installed."
The launch event, held at a multipurpose pavilion in Woodlands, was attended by more than 50 residents, volunteers, media and other guests.
The upcycled seats were earlier rolled out at lift lobbies and the void deck area at the housing block where Madam Annie Kwa, 75, lives.
The retiree said that the new installations are helpful to the seniors, many of whom live in the studio apartments in the estate.
Said Madam Kwa: "A lot of elderly (people) walk around here and they need to rest. When they are waiting for the lift, they can rest there too."
She added that although the train seats are not new, they are sturdy and easy to wipe down.
"Sometimes the wooden benches have a bad smell when they are old," she said, adding that she hopes to see more repurposed benches in the neighbourhood.
Another resident, former civil servant Leong Kum Tong, 75, said the handrails will be helpful for the many elderly residents, especially when they walk up ramps.
Mr Leong said he was pleased to see old materials reused, and added: "If we use recycled things, we won't have so much wastage... The parts are old but they still look new."
The project adds to the green initiatives under the Action for Green Towns campaign, which involves MPs from each PAP town council working closely with residents on environmental goals.
Last December, the campaign kicked off an initiative that rewarded those who recycle paper at one of 77 recycling machines with 6 cents per kilogramme.
Giving an update on the project, the campaign's chairman Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC) said on Sunday that residents saved more than 5,000 trees with the paper they recycled in the first half of the year.