Merrin Pearse's Blog

Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Dr Merrin Pearse is passionate about the Natural Environment (yes animals, bugs and trees) and helping people to realize that economic and environmental sustainability are one. Raised on a dairy farm in New Zealand and with a background in Land Surveying (specializing in precise positioning through the use of GPS equipment) his work has connected him with all continents and taken him to amazing places where he has seen some of the best and worst examples of human "development". He has a wide range of international experience working for Government Departments, SMEs, international companies and NGO’s in quality assurance, auditing, sustainability, benchmarking and community engagement roles which have provided him with a unique perspective on team dynamics. Currently based in Hong Kong with his wife Louise, Merrin is a Communication and Marketing Consultant to Friends of the Earth (HK) 4 days per week. In addition to freelance work, he co-organizes Hong Kong Green Drinks and is an active member of a number of environmental organizations.

Making the most of 1823 - HK Government Helpline

Ask and you may receive
January 16, 2013

Recently I was disappointed to see our villages nearest recycling bins being replaced with new bins of smaller capacity.  We already had bins that were regularly overflowing and there were not bins actually within the village itself.
 
So I sent off a letter to 1823 (www.1823.gov.hk) in October.  Within a week they had added back some of the old bins next to the new bins so we had more space.  A great speedy response.
 
Discussions moved on to the frequency of collection and by the middle of December the contractor to FEHD had been engaged to collect recycling twice per week rather than only once.  So rather than just my local bins I understand other bins on South Lantau are now being emptied more often.
 
Last phase was the topic of actually having recycling bins within our village.  Luckily the local village representative has now agreed to having recycling bins in our village.  Previously they have had concerns that recycling bins would create smell and attract rats and dogs, which I found strange considering the 15 or more rubbish bins scattered through the village already create a smell and are enjoyed by the village dogs!!!
 
So after I suggested 3 potential locations for the recycling bins, one has been accepted and the new bins will be install by 1st February.  You might find the response by FEHD about the design of the new combined litter and recycling bins interesting.
"I refer to your concern on the new design of the recyclables collection bins, the stainless steel recyclables collection bins are more durable with better appearance and easier for maintenance.  We will review and improve the design of recyclable collection bin for encouraging and facilitating the public in using the recyclables collection services."
 
There is a 1823 smartphone app that allows you to contact 1823 easily. It is called "Tell me@1823".
 
So what difference can you make in your community by providing suggestions to 1823?
 
----------------------- Copy of orginal letter to 1823 -----------------------
24 Oct 2012
To whom it may concern:

I am writing to complain about the new metal recycling bins that have been appearing in South Lantau over the last few weeks.

Firstly, the new recycling bins have been blocking the old plastic recycling bins, and the new bins are still wrapped in plastic.  It is causing an inconvenience to local people who are trying to recycle.  Can you please ensure that when recycling bins are being replaced that the existing bins are still able to be used until the new ones are ready.  In particular I noticed the new bins outside of Luk Tei Tong in Mui Wo were blocking the bins for 4 days after they were placed there on Friday 13 Oct (photo attached).  It is now 10 days later and the new bins still cannot be used.

Secondly, some residents are concerned about the design of the new recycling bins.  There has been a discussion on Facebook about the new design. Areas of concern are:
-       the small space available within the new recycling bins will make the area more messy as most of the recyclables will over flow if the frequency of emptying the recycling bins is not increased.
-       the cover of the new recycling bins are harder to open and with a smaller opening.  This will discourage people from placing recyclables and rubbish in the bins.

Thirdly, you will notice that the new bin near Luk Tei Tong is considerably smaller than the existing bins, when you take into account that the new bin also includes a general waste area. Our existing 4 Brown, 2 Blue and 1 yellow bins are often overflowing. The new bin is only equivalent in volume to 2 brown, 2/3 of a blue and 2/3 of a yellow bin.  So please either provide a second new bin or ensure the recycling is collected at least twice as frequently as current collections take place.

Fourthly, why are there no recycling bins actually within the Luk Tei Tong Village?  Surely to help the government better reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill it would be more sensible and convenient to have recycling bins next to 3 of the main rubbish collection points within the village.  Can these new bins be placed within the village?

I am looking forward for your reply about how these concerns may be addressed.

Best Regards,
Merrin Pearse

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