MTR’s lack of bins for recycling typical of Hong Kong’s apathy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 10:12pm

Much has been written about waste in Hong Kong lately, from our pushes to recycle glass to a tête-à-tête between Wong Hong-meng of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and correspondent Tom Yam, through these columns. But what can Hong Kong residents do about the problem if we can’t even find recycling facilities in major transport hubs?

Pleased about the opening of the South Island Line, I was exploring it for the first time earlier this month when I found myself in Wong Chuk Hang station looking for a recycling bin for the drink I’d just finished. I couldn’t find one. I asked station staff, who informed me that they also did not know where a recycling bin could be found.

One helpful staff member told me he would take the bottle from me and recycle it himself. I thanked him, handed it over, and he walked off towards the control booth. But a few minutes later as I was on the escalator to the platform, I saw a different staff member holding my empty drink bottle walking back in the opposite direction.

This is remarkably unremarkable – a new station just opened in an international city like Hong Kong does not have appropriate recycling facilities?

Well, sigh, of course it doesn’t. What else can we expect from our Hong Kong, lumbering like a dinosaur towards recycling practices that should match our place in the global economy?

According to the EPD, Hong Kong only recycles 38 per cent of its plastics but the number could be even worse, with a 2013 South China Morning Post article putting the statistic at only 15 per cent.

This isn’t a figure to be proud of. Perhaps we could do better if only we had the facilities to collect more recycling. Perhaps we could raise awareness around recycling if we were able to see more bins in public places.

The MTR Corporation – not only a transit provider but a major real estate player with a yearly revenue of HK$36 billion – should be doing everything it can to face this problem rather than condoning Hong Kong’s low recycling rate through lack of recycling facilities.

The fact that these facilities are missing from new stations, completed in 2016, is even more disgraceful.

Heather Pennington, Central