Lamma volunteers make floundering recycling scheme a success
Lamma residents and concern group help transport glass bottles to recycling booth
Every week, restaurants and bars on Lamma Island dispose of hundreds of glass bottles, which make their way to a recycling booth - but it is volunteers, rather than paid workers, who are delivering the bottles.
The recycling booth has been set up twice a week since March when the government launched a year-long scheme, the Islands Community Recycling Booths, on Lamma Island and Cheung Chau to collect plastics, glass bottles and small electronics.
But when resident concern group, Living Lamma, saw that the booth - set up on Yung Shue Wan Main Street on Fridays and at the public cargo pier on Saturdays - collected a mere 13.6kg of glass one week, it decided to gather its volunteers to help eateries deliver the glass for disposal.
Group chairperson Jo Wilson said that while the restaurants and bars were happy to separate their glass bottles from other garbage, they were too busy to deliver the items to the booth - set up from 1pm to 4pm - because of the busy lunch crowd.
Since Living Lamma's volunteers started helping with the disposal, the amount of glass collected has soared.
On a visit to the island yesterday, the South China Morning Post saw 1,516kg of glass taken to the booth in just three hours with the help of volunteers and residents. One man brought glass bottles amassed from a night of Christmas merrymaking.
"There's a lot of beer being drunk on Lamma," said Roz Keep, Living Lamma's vice-chairwoman.
The group is now asking the government to provide glass collection bins that are already available in a scheme serving public housing estates in East Kowloon, so that bottles reeking of alcohol would not have to be stored throughout the week.
Living Lamma has also asked the government to send hired workers. Wilson points out that this is already being done in the Islands Food Waste Recycling Scheme in which collectors go door-to-door. They have also asked for the booths to be set up on less-busy days.
Without responding directly to Living Lamma's requests, the Environmental Protection Department said in a statement that it hoped to promote more waste-recycling efforts on the outlying islands by introducing recycling booths to more locations, and would seek approval from the Islands District Council early next year.
On Cheung Chau, the booths collected 5,000kg of glass from March to last month, while on Lamma, the figure was 40,000kg.
In Hong Kong, about 100,000 tonnes of glass containers are disposed of in landfills each year. The waste glass collected under the recycling scheme is crushed into glass sand for paving blocks for use in public works projects.