ENVIRONMENT

Tseung Kwan O residents sign up for pilot scheme to cut food waste

Pilot programme at a Tseung Kwan O estate sees old vegetable peelings turned into fish feed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 10:58am

Households at a Tseung Kwan O estate have embarked on a two-month mission to help slash one of the biggest contributors to the city's overflowing landfills - food.

They have signed up to a pilot scheme under which 100-150kg of waste is being sent each day to be made into fish feed.

Mak Chun-keung, chairman of the owners' committee at the private Oscar by the Sea, said the scheme not only helped the environment but could also serve as a model for estates to reduce disposal costs if the government imposed a solid-waste charge.

Of the 9,000 tonnes of solid waste discarded at each of the city's three landfills each day, about 40 per cent is food.

"I support a pay-as-you-throw scheme," Mak said. "I don't think it's an issue of persuading people to co-operate, it's about whether they are willing to take up the social responsibility as Hong Kong citizens."

The 200 households in the Tseung Kwan O scheme have been issued with one-litre cartons capable of storing 1.5kg of solid-food waste including vegetable ends, expired produce and even shells and bones. The cartons are emptied at a collection point in the estate's car park where a truck arrives daily to take the waste to a processing plant run by Kowloon Biotechnology in Lau Fau Shan.

Ten tonnes of food waste can make a tonne of fish feed according to the World Green Organisation, the non-profit group that helped to roll out the scheme.

To provide an extra incentive for participating households, each carton of waste earns stamps that can be exchanged for supermarket coupons.

Mak said many residents had been taking their food waste to the collection point voluntarily. "It's a very meaningful cause," he said.

WGO policy advocacy manager Angus Wong said logistics constraints and costs limited the programme to 200 of the estate's 1,900 households. The scheme cost "about HK$100,000".

Launched in July, the scheme ends next month.

But Mak hopes the government will help other estates to launch similar programmes in the future.

For large middle-class housing estates, the costs of waste disposal could be absorbed easily. But poorer residents such as Mrs Leung, tenant of a subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po, said a waste charge would be yet another increase in their daily expenses.

"Vegetables are already so expensive now. A new waste charge would definitely be a burden for us but if it is for the environment, then I would have to just support it," she said.