NUS Students Create Telegram Bot That Connects Users to Karung Guni Uncles

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In the past, I’m sure many of us have heard the familiar toots of the horn and the shouts of a karung guni uncles asking for recyclable items like newspapers, televisions and such.

Image: Icons of SG

Nowadays, they still exist, but you probably don’t hear of them as often anymore.

So what happens if you want to recycle your materials?

I mean, you clearly don’t know when they’ll come around your neighbourhood. So most of us either put it along the corridors of our house or we simply just dump it near the trash area, hoping someone who needs it would find it themselves.

But what if I told you that there’s a solution now?

Image: Giphy

NUS Students Create Telegram Bot That Connects Users to Karung Guni Uncles

A group of National University of Singapore (NUS) students involved in the NUS Social Impact Catalyst have identified this problem and decided to come up with a way to solve this issue.

They have created a Telegram bot that allows users to “schedule the collection of recyclable items” straight from their house. The bot then connects them “with a network of karung gunis across Singapore”.

Image: Giphy

Through this, the group of students believe that it would be much easier for everyone to recycle from the comfort of their own homes. They will no longer have to wonder if a karung guni would be stopping by their house in the next few days.

Image: Esplanade

This also helps to ensure that waste contamination at our blue recycling bins is minimised.

Not sure about you, but I have heard of people throwing trash into recycling bins.

Image: Giphy

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How Does This Work?

So the most important question is, how does this actually work? And what is their bot username?

Well, first of all, their bot username can be found here: (https://t.me/RecyclablesBot). And as of now, this will only be open to those living in the Choa Chu Kang or Yew Tee area.

The collection will occur every Friday and Saturday, but do note that there will be limited slots available.

After all, the karung gunis are travelling by foot and they have quite a big area to cover. 

Collection timing will be between 11am and 2pm, so make sure that you only schedule a collection if you are able to make it for the slot.

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It is not recommended that you leave your items outside of your house for the karung gunis to do a self-collection as there were reports of missing items previously.

And what items can I recycle?


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These would include papers, clothes and electronics.

However, for electronics, you have to indicate it in the form provided by the bot. If a karung guni is interested in that particular electronic, he would contact you directly.

Otherwise, they are not accepting bulky items as of now.

Is my block going to be included in this?

If you’re unsure, you can simply input your postal code and the bot will let you know.


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How much will I be paid for the recyclables?

Payment will be made according to the market rates.

Future Plans

Image: Reddit (u/TraderDane)

Image: Reddit (u/TraderDane)

Many Redditors have commended the students on creating a bot, but they have also asked about the feasibility of this and whether they intend to expand to other areas of Singapore.


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Image: Reddit (u/TraderDane)

According to the students, they do plan to expand this project to every area in Singapore. However, due to the constraints of resources, they will be doing the expansion region by region.

Another Redditor also asked how the group would connect with karung gunis who are interested to join but are not technologically savvy.

Image: Reddit (u/TraderDane)

In response to that, the students said that the karung gunis they’ve partnered with so far are all comfortable with using their current interface.


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But of course, they recognise this problem and are looking to design a simple interface in both Chinese and English. In addition, they will have either live or pre-recorded tutorials so that they know how to use the platform.

You can check out more information about them here.

You can also take a look at their Instagram account @recyclables.sg and drop them a follow so that you’ll be up-to-date!


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In the meantime, you can watch this video to find out more about Telegram: