• Fri
  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01am

Government should help recyclers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 4:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 4:44am

I refer to the report ("Incinerator and landfill expansions are a must, says Bernard Chan", February 20).

Mr Chan as chairman of the Council for Sustainable Development should know better. He is confusing the collection and sorting of recyclable materials with recycling per se.

Hong Kong is certainly not recycling 48 per cent of daily waste. With over seven million citizens and 50 million visitors a year, the city has not the up-to-date infrastructure for coherent waste separation and collection, and the recycling industry is still small. Recyclers in a meeting last year with Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing asked the government to support the provision of land for expansion.

Large amounts of materials which represent value are sent to the mainland for recycling. One situation shows the ever-increasing stockpile of plastic waste here because the mainland is now refusing certain, untreated plastics; we do not have the capacity in Hong Kong to process our large volumes.

Most of what is in our daily rubbish bins is not waste but value. Value recovery, that is recycling, is the core of a sustainable future . Sustainable should not be confused with burning value or unnecessaryily adding to landfills.

To follow an honest policy of a sustainable future the government must change its philosophy from thinking of waste to thinking of values and give the highest priority to value-recovery before landfills or giant incinerators.

Once we have a thriving recycling industry in Hong Kong we preserve and create value and employment and can export processed or semi-processed commodities. The amount destined for landfills will be drastically reduced. The requirements for different recycling methods and techniques will support many small and medium-sized enterprises. The recycling industry is beneficial for the city and deserves support before thinking further on the HK$20 to HK$30 billion for a giant incinerator, the integrated waste management facility.

The planned waste tax on consumers also shows misguided government policy. The manufacturers, importers and retailers are selling us products that the government declared is waste. These businesses have already added their profit margins on products/packaging; they should give back part of these gains to the community by way of a product levy.

Under "extended producer responsibility" the money should then be used to support the infrastructure for recycling and put Hong Kong on the way, ultimately, to a zero-waste future; several countries have implemented such a policy.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive


This article is now closed to comments

hits the nail on the head
real Recycling figures were cooked by Govt & you cannot recycle MSW that is already covered in food waste
Putrescibles form 48+% of daily Domestic MSW
Where is the legislation for mandatory separation of food waste at source ?
Where is the Govt Green Bin collection system for food waste & yard waste ?
So now after separating our food waste where do we put it ?
This shows the blinkered Environmental Pestilence Dept policies are completely flawed.
If they had separation at source legislation dry MSW could indeed be recycled
This means far less feedstock available for their prized incinerator idea hence the deliberate lack of legislation to date as it would endanger their chances of Legco funding the mega burner
So instead they will have a waste fine by way of waste charging when the infrastructure to handle already separated waste is not yet in place
The waste fine will go into the General Fund for pouring more concrete & pollution
Recently there was a suggestion to puree our food waste collected free in a Green Bin system & use the sewage system, an idea originated from respected senior technical engineer consultant
This was poo-pooed in the latest Food Waste document from ENB without any consultant study whatsoever, since it is a viable idea but conflicts with their blinkered burn'n bury policy
Since wet market food waste here is already 90% water content one wonders why the sewer system could not accept pureed food waste?


SCMP.com Account