Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Lives of Cardboard Grannies in Numbers

More than 80 percent of recyclable collectors are elderly women
Old women pushing trolleys stacked with flattened cardboard, or dragging around bundles of cardboard are common sight in Hong Kong, but they are still shocking reminders that there are some people in the community who are scraping by in one of the most prosperous cities in the world.

Most do not want to depend on the government for help
They are called "cardboard grannies" and concern group Waste Picker Platform has done a survey of 505 of these people. The findings are good background information for us to know more about them.

* They make on average HK$716 a month
* There are an estimated 2,900 people on the streets collecting rubbish daily
* 80 percent of them are women, where 82 percent are over the age of 60, the oldest 96
* More than 60 percent have scavenged for more three years
* They spend on average five and a half hours a day collecting recyclables
* Each time they pick up 35kg of cardboard and go to recycling shops 1.9 times per day
* Including financial aid and wages from other jobs, they still make less than HK$5,000 per month
* Almost 90 percent of respondents collect recyclables for economic reasons
* 25 percent rely on collecting garbage to meet basic needs

On top of these statistics, the cardboard grannies have to contend with being chased away by the government's hygiene staff and 9.5 percent of those surveyed experienced having their belongings confiscated.

Most cardboard collectors are over 60, the oldest is 96
How can we solve this issue? Many of these elderly women refuse to receive handouts from the government, and at the same time they are helping the city recycle, one cardboard sheet at a time.

The government really needs to learn more about these cardboard grannies and talk to them and find out their needs and concerns. Waste Picker Platform has started the ball rolling with insightful statistics, but meaningful dialogue needs to take place.

How can we help them understand they are entitled to fringe benefits as an elderly person, but also allow them to keep their dignity of earning their keep?

That is the question that needs to be asked.

1 comment:

  1. These are the people that the government should be spending money on to make their lives better. Can't we all agree about this at least?