Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Mission Impossible to Recycle

There aren't enough recycling bins like these and some dump waste in them 
In the last few years, Hong Kong people are becoming more environmentally conscious and are finally waking up to the myriad of issues that are plaguing the city.

One of the more pressing ones is pollution, but another is recycling, particularly dealing with food waste.

The Green Council, a local NGO conducted a survey of 1,288 respondents and found 89 percent were willing to recycle food waste if there was a recycling point where they lived.

Currently about 66 percent didn't do anything to reduce or recycle the amount of food waste they generated, mostly because only 5 percent of residential properties have food recycling schemes.

Glass recycling is a no brainer, but not enough collection bins
Everyday the city dumps 3,600 tons of food into landfills, making up 40 percent of Hong Kong's solid municipal waste, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Department in 2011.

The survey also found that 90 percent of consumers were interested in patronizing restaurants that had good food waste handling practices.

For restaurants to qualify for the "Lean Label Scheme", they had to introduce such practices as having recipes that made use of surplus food, allowing customers to choose portion sizes, and having proper storage facilities to prevent food from spoiling.

"In the past two or three years, our customers have become a lot more aware of the problem of food waste," said Carrel Kam Lin-wang, director of Yung Kee Restaurant in Central, that just received its Lean Label yesterday.

"Unlike a few years ago when customers would intentionally order until there would be foo to spare, nowadays even celebrities who eat at our restaurant will bring their own boxes to pay away leftovers," Kam said.

Where is Wong Kam-sing's leadership on this crucial issue?
Really? Hard to imagine the well-heeled whipping out plastic containers to put their leftover roast goose in, but you never know.

But more importantly, where is the government leadership on this issue?

Wong Kam-sing, secretary for the environment said yesterday that an economic incentive was necessary in order to reduce waste. "We must first have a fee on waste disposal which we will propose to the new Legco," he said.

While the implementation of this waste disposal fee is years from now, why not encourage more recycling with more bins for people to do it? And educate users on which items can be recycled, and which can't.

Right now there are hardly enough recycling bins where people live which is crucial in making this work.

The other is educating people on what can be recycled and what can't. Many use recycling bins on the street as another garbage can. This attitude has to change right now. And then there are those who are too lazy to sort their garbage and take it to the nearest recycling bin.

There is a recycling station just outside my apartment building, with even containers to accept glass (these are a rare sight in Hong Kong), and yet some residents still leave their empty wine bottles by the garbage can for the waste collectors to pick up.

Other cities around the world have been recycling for decades, and places like Vancouver are recycling all food waste to be composted. Why should this be an impossible task in Hong Kong?

The government doesn't seem to encourage the business of recycling either -- making it financially unfeasible for people to want to get into the recycling business.

But alas the government -- not just the Leung Chun-ying administration, but even in the colonial era -- didn't make much effort into recycling and no official now, even our current secretary for the environment isn't pushing this.

It's all talk and no action, which is pathetic particularly when people are clamouring for it even more now.

What's wrong with doing our part to save our environment from our own destruction? People want to do something, so why not make it easier for them to recycle?


  1. I flew into Chek Lap Kok airport yesterday and saw more recycling bins than I recall seeing even as late as this past May. If only recycling bins were in such abundance in the rest of Hong Kong -- and even better, if only people actually used them properly unlike what I've often seen here...

    And I agree that recycling is something that shouldn't be left just to individuals. The government needs to encourage it. As for food wastage: the corporations (including those operating supermarkets as well as restaurants) need to minimize it, not just individuals.

    1. The government doesn't make bylaws to get places to recycle their food. They have so many wet markets under their jurisdiction and yet they don't have some kind of agreement to allow NGOs to collect all the decent fruits, vegetables and meats to feed those who can't afford food citing hygiene concerns... it's mind boggling.