Recycling efforts in Hong Kong inadequate
The lack of progress on combating Hong Kong's dirty air and the severe health problems resulting from this pollution have been highlighted in these columns.
However, an equally pressing environmental issue is the need for urgent action to implement an effective recycling system for Hong Kong's household waste, so as to ease the pressure on landfill sites, and reduce the need to consider "super incinerator" solutions like the one proposed at Shek Kwu Chau.
Studying the text of the comprehensive waste management strategy and action plan (2011), and the strategies detailed on the current website of the Environmental Protection Department, one could be forgiven for thinking that Hong Kong was at the forefront of best practice worldwide - but according to department statistics on solid waste dumped in landfills in 2011, 45 per cent of disposal consists of domestic waste, a total of 5,973 tonnes every day.
My family and I are very keen to support recycling by sorting the waste we generate every day, but there are no arrangements for this in the block where we live. Recently in France, we separated out food waste, glassware, aluminium cans, Tetra Paks, newspapers, plastic bottles, cardboard - almost the entire contents of our daily domestic waste.
Recycling is not a magic solution to a problem that must also be attacked at source via waste reduction, but Hong Kong is a society where recycling can be facilitated by the way in which residential accommodation is for the most part in estates and complexes with centralised waste bins.
Christine Loh Kung-wai, as new undersecretary for the environment, faces many challenging issues. There is a pressing need to change the role of the recycling bins around the city from mere decoration to an effective component of a Hong Kong-wide strategy for domestic waste recycling.
Paul Tattam, Ma On Shan