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Online recycling programme launch

To encourage more people to recycle, Veolia Environmental Services (veolia-es.sg) is rewarding residents through GRIN (Grow your Recycling Incentives Now), an online recycling programme.

Individual RFID (radiofrequency identification) chips are inserted into each of these recycling bins. Each bin is assigned a serial number, which contains information about each household or block of flats.

Based on a minimum of 3kg of recyclables collected in the recycling bin, one GRIN point will be awarded for every 1kg. GRIN points can be redeemed for gifts from merchants such as Ben & Jerry, Homefix, Skechers and Pet Lovers Centre.

GRIN is available at all landed properties in the Pasir Ris-Tampines and Tanglin-Bukit Merah areas and at HDB estates in the Pasir Ris-Tampines area.

Register online at www.grin.com.sg.

Whaling: Tradition or Violation of Rights?

To some, whale meat is an important source of dietary protein. To others, the killing of whales is deemed cruel. While commercial whaling is banned under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), whaling for scientific research is allowed, and so is aboriginal whaling, where whale products are considered an important part of a people’s cultural and subsistence needs.

In Denmark’s Faroe Islands, islanders have been observing the whale-hunting tradition known as grindadrap for centuries. Initially, whale hunting was meant to provide the community with food stocks during winter. However, it is now alleged that people are hunting whales merely for the sake of tradition.

In Japan, it is common to find whale meat in sushi chains and restaurants. Recently, Japan has been criticised by activists because of its controversial whaling which it claims is for research. After such research, any unused meat is then distributed to the market. However, critics argue that some of the meat is illegally sourced; and as demand for whale meat has been declining in the past decade, much of it is simply wasted.

Ever since the IWC implemented regulations in 1986, the once seriously depleted whale populations have been increasing. IWC points out that whales and dolphins are vulnerable to collisions with hunting and whale-watching vessels that can injure or even kill them.

While it is arguably important to respect traditions that have been maintained for centuries, to what extent should whaling be considered unethical and an abuse of animal rights?

In Singapore, importing whale products requires a special permit from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (ava.gov.sg). Under the Endangered Species Act, any person who possesses, sells, offers or advertises the sale of illegal whale meat or products may be fined up to $50,000 and/or face imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.