Trial domestic waste scheme cuts recharging

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 5:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 December, 2013, 5:00am

Residents have recycled more and dumped less rubbish in a green group's trial domestic waste scheme.

The trial also highlighted practical problems ahead of the government's plan to introduce a waste levy in 2016.

Greeners Action launched the one-month scheme in a residential building in Prince Edward on November 21. Seventy-three of the 87 households took part from the beginning and six more joined in the second week. In the first week of the exercise, residents dumped 141kg less non-recyclable rubbish.

The scheme resembles an idea put forward in the Council for Sustainable Development's public consultation paper, which is to make people buy garbage bags and dispose of them at a designated time and place.

Since the group cannot charge residents, it provided the bags free for residents to dispose of non-recyclable waste. At the end of the trial they can return any unused bags and claim cash so that the less they dump, the more money they get. The bags come in two sizes, five and 15 litres, and a cash value of HK$1 and HK$3 each.

Residents have to classify nine types of recyclable waste and put it into corresponding collection bins in the building. Residents must put the bags outside their flats between 7pm and 9pm daily for workers to collect.

Food waste is treated as non-recyclable because the organisers do not believe the government will have food recycling facilities ready by the time it introduces the charging scheme.

In the week prior to the exercise, residents put a total of 767kg of non-recyclable rubbish into garbage bags. This fell to 625.6kg in the first week of the trial, rose to 681.1kg in the second and dropped to 677.1kg in the third week.

Married couple Deborah Ng Wai-wah and Roger Hu Ka-wo said they had become more aware of recycling since the implementation of the scheme. "For example, instead of three dishes per meal we now prepare only two dishes to avoid food waste," Ng said.

However, Hu said: "We have to throw away used diapers to bins outside of the building because they smell and we can't wait until the rubbish collection time in the evening."

Angus Ho Hon-wai, executive director of Greeners Action, suggested that a collection point could be added for residents to dump rubbish outside of the designated time for those not at home during the regular collection time.