Rising Recycling

Rising Recycling

14 August, 2015
HK Cuts Waste
Hong Kong Government plans to cut municipal waste by 40 per cent by 2022
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Striving to join the ranks of Asia’s other waste and recycling champions, Seoul and Taiwan, Hong Kong’s government has recently unveiled plans to cut per capita municipal waste by 40 per cent by 2022.
 
Hong Kong’s domestic waste per capita has hovered around 1.3 kilograms per person the past few years — 40 to 60 per cent more than neighboring Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo. What’s more, local food waste in the city is almost twice that of other cities despite Hong Kong importing over 90 per cent of its food. To address these issues, the Hong Kong SAR Government has begun working on a catch-up plan with its municipal waste rates.
 
By incentivising recycling and penalising waste with quantity-based fees, Hong Kong aims to facilitate the city’s circular economy. The city’s outdated infrastructure is being targeted with “the establishment of an integrated waste management facility to process municipal solid waste and to convert waste to energy,” Mr Wong Kam Sing, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, told VISION. “We take action in three areas, namely, reducing waste at source, waste recycling and waste management infrastructure,” says Mr. Wong, “the Government has legislated for waste reduction at source, including the plastic shopping bag charging (fees), and quantity-based charging (fees) for municipal solid waste that will be introduced later.”
 
Of the 1,900 recycling companies in Hong Kong, most are small and medium ventures that face challenges with land and resources. Public education is also a big challenge to broad-scale recycling — this paired with the current lack of financial incentive for recycling, has limited recycling to only a few notable avenues. What’s more, local companies struggle with Hong Kong’s limited land area when moving resources. Big awareness campaigns are underway such as the ‘Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign’ and ‘Clean Recycling Campaign’, and supplemented by grassroots itiatives such as this year's Zero Waste Week that aim to facilitate public involvement with these issues.
 
Locals can also download the ‘Waste Less’ app that plots Hong Kong’s over 7,000 recycling points on a map. With this info, people are empowered with home recycling methods and ultimately waste reduction at its source (noting that food waste contributes not only to landfill depletion but also methane formation.)
 
With this gamut of tools, Hong Kong seems determined to match its rivals’ waste and recycling infrastructure. Let’s hope they succeed!
 

By: Louis de Tilly-Blaru
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