'Karung guni' clutters corridor at Holland Close with wares, operates recycling plant from rental flat

A 55-year-old rag-and-bone man has turned the corridor outside his flat at Holland Close into his own personal storage unit, while operating a ‘recycling plant’ from his rental flat.

According to Lianhe Wanbao, the man revealed that he is ill and unable to work. As such, he has to pick up discarded electronics and sell the extracted scrap metals for a living.

The makeshift ‘recycling plant’ is located on the fourth storey of a rental block in Holland Close. 

Due to the unique design of the block’s corridor, which passes by the his flat, and into a open space about the size two units, the resident was able to store his wares along the corridor in the space provided.

Reporters who visited also found the man's unit cluttered and full of old goods.

The man himself sleeps on a foldable bed due to the space constraint.

He told reporters that he had been a painter for 30 years, until he was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a rheumatic condition characterised by muscular or musculoskeletal pain and stiffness, seven years ago.

Since then both his hands had been frequently numb and he could not even hold the rollers properly.

Unable to find a job, he had to rely on government subsides, which amount to S$350 monthly.

Over a year ago, a friend introduced him to the recycling business, and he started collecting old and discarded goods.

Said the man: "I don’t earn a lot from this. When I’m lucky, I can earn about S$50, but usually S$20 to S$30 dollars a day isn’t a problem. 

"I’m proud that I can earn my own keep. This makes my life more interesting."

The man said that as long as his body could endure it, he would walk around the neighbourhood, and collect unwanted goods, bringing them back to his house and categorising them, before selling. 

He is also apologetic about storing his wares at the corridor, but says that he has little choice but to do so, as he needs to keep the goods before he can categorise and sell them.

"I need to extract the cooper from the electronics. I can get about S$6 for every kilogram of copper extracted."

He added that through his work, he had amassed a lot things.

Just over course of a year, he also received three fines for cluttering up the corridor, but could not pay the fine due to financial constraints.

"At least I can proudly say, ‘I haven't stole or robbed anyone, I earned my money through honest means.’"