Wasteful manufacturers must produce less packaging

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2014, 4:29am

The Hong Kong government is once again showing that it is a reactive government, rather than a proactive one. Instead of discouraging the production of waste, the government is planning to punish the public by imposing a charge on waste.

In our household, we attempt at all times to reduce waste. For example, in restaurants, we order what we eat: what we cannot finish, we take home. On many occasions, we have actually taken our own food containers. Plastic cups, even plastic bottles, have been turned into flower pots, while plastic plates are used as drip trays.

Yet there is a limit to how much of all this packaging I can use. The balance - which is being created continually - has to be thrown away. Instead of providing bulk packing, these days, manufacturers seem to favour putting things in smaller cartons or boxes. This creates a lot of rubbish, too.

When we order a burger, all we need is a paper wrapper; we do not need the burger wrapped in paper, and then put into a box, with a handful of sauce sachets that we will never use.

Then there is the daily newspaper: very often, I want to read only about half of it. The rest - supplements, or complimentary magazines, for example - are neither read, nor wanted; very often, after a cursory glance, they end up in the rubbish.

Even worse, all these different parts of the newspaper are heavy. If the waste-charging scheme does go into effect, I will definitely stop my subscription and read my news online.

The government must educate manufacturers to have a mindset of "no frills" packaging, so they use fewer blister packs inside a corrugated box, or even two - as in the case of some toothpaste, cosmetic and perfume brands.

Why don't we sell washing-up liquid in collapsible pouches, and washing powder in paper bags? Let's have more of the bulk packing and less of the "small convenient packs", which are more expensive and create more waste.

I think the waste-charging scheme is almost doomed to failure: to have to obtain the weight/volume of the city's rubbish will be monumental task. Yet never mind about all the waste - it's a waste of time.

If it should happen, I will probably take all my rubbish and sneakily chuck it into a street bin! Of course, I will not be the only person to think of doing this, so very soon Hong Kong will have mountains of rubbish on its streets.

I am paying my taxes so the government can provide waste disposal. But the waste-charging scheme will be tantamount to double taxation.

Instead, we must use taxes to educate waste producers - so that they create less waste matter in the first place.

B. Winterbourne, Mid-Levels