Andrew Tay
Business Development Director - KGS
Andrew’s introduction

I started my career as a mechanical engineer for 5 years and joined TayPaper Recycling in 2018. Tay Paper Recycling has grown from an informal scrap dealer to now a leading paper focused recycling company in Singapore. On top of just recycling, we also offer confidential data disposal services to help clients comply with PDPA, GDPR and recycle at the same time. I am now working at KGS, an e-waste and data sanitization company.

1- Let’s first talk about Tay Paper, a paper recycling company. It is at the heart of waste management which is a key component of sustainability. Could you describe your industry, its particularities & its challenges? Are there any challenges particular to Singapore?

In this industry, the products are pretty much a commodity. Sorted recyclables that we collect are at the mercy of international market forces which is increasingly volatile. In the local market, it is a service-oriented market with stiff competition. It is also challenging in Singapore ats the eco-consciousness is not as strong, so it is hard to get people to adopt more sustainable practices especially if it costs more.

Clients often ask us : Can you do it for free? Are there rebates for my recyclables? Can you tell us the process of what happens after you collect our waste? 

Usually regarding the cost, I will try to explain the cost involved in making the collection and processes after. I may then offer both a service charge $X per trip and a reimbursement rate like $Y/kg and, at the end of the day, they may cancel each other out or one party pays the other. 

In terms of what happens after collection, for paper waste we will sort, pack and export them to paper mills to be made into new products. For other materials like plastic and metals which we have less volume of, we usually partner with local recyclers (similar to us but plastic or metal focused) for them to process or export.

2- What would you tell companies that would like to start recycling their paper waste in offices? And for their warehouses or factories? As we are moving towards a digital word with newspapers and magazines read online, how do you see the future of your industry?

I would tell them to:

  • Start the conversation with us or a professional waste consultant to help design a “towards zero waste” plan. Paper waste will be one of the lower hanging fruits to tackle.
  • Continuously engage with staff to properly segregate the recyclables from contaminations to have a successful program.
  • For warehouses, conversations may start out trying to recycle papers but could turn out to be a full blown zero waste journey.

For the future, we are expecting some paper types to decline such as newspapers and writing papers but an increase in packaging papers like cartons. Therefore, we are moving toward a one-stop service approach to help customers with their zero waste journey with recycling as a focus. We are looking to onboard partners and capabilities to offer other services such as waste audit & consultancy, plastic recycling, food waste solutions etc. 

3- In 2019, you started outreach programs with DBS and with Two of a Kind. Could you explain what those programs were about, their benefits and why we should seek more partnerships between companies?

DBS project is a program where we help them collect and recycle red packets, and all their branches act as drop-off points for the public. One of the main benefits is that it sparks a conversation around recycling and sustainability during the Chinese festive season which promotes eco awareness. 

Two of A Kind project is where we help them (an online direct to consumer contact lens retailer) recycle plastic daily contact lens blisters (containers). This allows these blisters to be effectively recycled where it would have, otherwise, not been picked up at local sorting plants due to its size. It also sparks a great conversation with contact lens community as this project accepts blisters from all other brands too.

I believe that these partnerships, when well designed, can only be beneficial to all parties, including the environment. So, the more the merrier. 

4- You have recently joined KGS. Could you tell us more about it: how it started? what are the main e-waste you collect? and what services do you offer? How do you make sure what you collect is properly recycled ? What are the processes in place?

I joined KGS as a business development director in early 2021. Main e-waste we collect is ICT equipment ranging from laptops to servers. With ICT equipment, it often contains data so data sanitization services such as magnetic degaussing are value added services we provide when we help clients recycle e-waste. From Dec 2020 to June 2021, we have been instrumental in executing and promoting the PMD disposal and recycling program with the support of NEA and LTA.

We will sort the e-waste we collected into various types and send them for refurbishment or recycling. Then we will proceed to dismantle the items down into its component level, segregate into respective materials and send for further recycling. We are audited to international standards for our processes and partners we work with to ensure proper recycling. 

5- What are the challenges in the e-waste industry? The EPR comes into effect on July 1st 2021, what will it change for your industry?

Main challenge in our industry is manpower. The collection, sorting and recycling processes are very labour intensive. 

With the EPR, it will restrict us from collecting from the public unless authorised by the PRS operator and NEA.

6- You have recently also launched your own business, TheRollieco, selling recycled toilet paper. How did you come up with this idea? Can you tell us more about the process you went through from the idea to the final products?

It started when I was involved in promoting paper document shredding as part of data protection. I was explaining to my wife that shredded documents are sent for recycling and likely made into products like toilet papers. She suggested that it would be meaningful if customers who shred their documents can have a roll of these recycled toilet papers to use. 

This idea stuck with us and we decided to start researching and sourcing. One thing led to another and we launched our eco toilet paper made from 100% recycled papers in Apr 2021.

7- How do you assess your supplier and its sustainable raw material? What are the challenges in the B2C market when selling sustainable products? What are your future plans for TheRollieco ?

This was during the circuit breaker covid-19 period in 2020 so we could not travel. so we can only rely on video conferences and other digital means to assess their processes and documentations. 

Challenge in the B2C market is the challenge to reach customers. When we do, there are stigma to overcome such as price, quality and brand name. People tend to stick to what they are familiar with even when those products are not good for the environment. 

We plan to help Singaporeans make the eco switch to sustainable necessity products and gradually expand to neighbouring cities.

8- What are you most proud of?

I am most proud to be playing a part of some of these projects and initiatives to help improve sustainability in Singapore.

9- What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?

1. Start the conversation with someone in this network and you might be surprise where it leads.

2. Sustainability is a journey and not a quick fix. Many efforts will be required.

3. As consumers of products or services, we all have the power to vote with our dollars. Vote green.

10- How could you help The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?

I can help to start the sustainability conversation and connect to any solutions I might have in my network.

Andrew kindly accepts to answer your questions.
If you need additional insights, you can send him a message.