Green Xchange

Green Xchange: Trash for Food

Singapore, SingaporeSingapore, Singapore
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Green Xchange where heartland socially disadvantaged trade off their recyclables for necessities like rice, oil and sugar.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

you could feed the poor through recycling?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Singapore faces a ageing society, like other parts of Asia. There are a huge number of unemployed socially disadvantage elderly living at one-room rental apartments in the heartlands. To survive, they hoard recyclables (such as used plastic bottles, newspapers) to sell of to middle-men recyclers who offer them an unfair rate (at SGD$0.50 for 10kg recyclables). The rate gets better with more recyclables, encouraging them to hoard more.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Avelife's Green Xchange allow these elderly to trade off their recyclables for necessities like rice, oil and sugar at a fairer rate without hoarding dangerously. The project was initially meant to inculcate a recycling habit while reducing the socially disadvantaged reliance on hand-outs, but it has been commended for saving lives by significantly preventing corridor fires caused by trash hoarding. Green Xchange has also contributed solving the following problem: 1. Improve National recycling rate in the heartlands 2. Reduce hoarding of rubbish in rental apartment flats 3. Eliminate deadly corridor fires along rental apartment flats caused by hoarding 4. Collection of recyclables directly from these elderly flats
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Green Xchange are held monthly at different heartlands of Singapore, specifically at locations where there are huge density of these socially disadvantaged elderly and the prevalence of high hoarding activity. Green Xchange are held on weekends and these elderly are informed a month in advance by local grass-roots committee. During the event day, Avelife volunteers (from different walks of life) together with local grass-roots committee, to collect these recyclables at the homes of the elderly and exchange them for basic necessities like rice, sugar, cooking oil on the spot.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

1. Approximately 30,000kg recyclables collected in 4 hours, which is equivalent to the amount of recyclables collected in 1 month at the same estate 2. Reduction of deadly corridor fires along rental apartment flats caused by hoarding by 90% according to local fire department and grassroots 3. More than 100,000 elderly positively impacted

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. Overseas expansion Green Xchange has been implemented in Brunei, with huge success by partnering non-profit SCOT Brunei. Green Xchange is now regularly held every quarter at Kampungs with socially-disadvantage poor. Find out more: 2. Expansion of food items Plans are in the pipeline of to include vegetables vouchers, processed organic food or food vouchers.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project is funded by Avelife, a local environment charity.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?


Founding Story

In 2001, as part of his Secondary School's community work, Mark and his classmates went to a 1-room rental flat to help an elderly resident repaint. He was astonished to discovered recyclable waste being hoarded along the corridors at almost every level of the flats. Curious, he spoke to the elderly residents about this and discovered that hoarding was an integral part of their survival. Post-event, Mark researched and found out that this activity was widespread amongst the disadvantaged elderly. Apart from hoarding, many had to drag these recyclables for miles for them to be sold at middle-men recyclers who offer them disadvantage rates of exchange. Mark decided to start Green Xchange, gathering his friends which then became a movement.


Various volunteers from Avelife Mr Muhd Anwar, founder of SCOT and Green XChange Brunei
About You
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About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Singapore

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Singapore

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, NGOs, Businesses, National government.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

NationalEnvironment Agency Eco-friend Award 2011, National Youth Council Stars of Shine 2013

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Ashoka Singapore

Tell us about your partnerships:

Each Green Xchange is designed to involved the 3Ps (People, Public, Private sector). We have since grown to include the local town council and local Member-in Parliament. Recycling corporates like Sembwaste Recycling have provided recycling bins and services.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Rise of food prices and lowered recycling rates have threatened the survival of the project. However, Supermarkets and other charitable organizations have contributed by donating food products.