With an estimated 19,000 tonnes of solid waste going into them every day, the SAR's three strategic landfills are expected to be full by 2015 - five years ahead of schedule. And there is no sign that Hong Kong, which has enthusiastically signed up to the so-called 'throw-away' society, will produce any less garbage. Notwithstanding extensive campaigns aimed at encouraging people to be less wasteful by using fewer plastic bags, styrofoam boxes and disposable utensils, these items are still ubiquitous. The public seems oblivious to its wasteful habits. Manufacturers are to blame for contributing to the production of excessive waste as well. Soft-drink producers used to have arrangements for collecting glass bottles, which were then cleaned and re-used. Now that labour costs are high and packaging production costs relatively low, the bottles are no longer collected and most consumers just throw them away. Increasingly, candies and chocolates are surrounded by more and more layers of wrapping, with the sole aim of impressing consumers. A law banning excessive packaging would hopefully reduce the production of waste at its source. So would a law mandating the collection of re-usable containers. These measures aside, more should certainly be done to recycle waste. According to the Environmental Protection Department, only about 35 per cent of municipal waste is currently recycled. About four-fifths of the recyclable waste recovered was paper, plastic, or metal, with the remainder being glass, wood, rubber tyres or textiles. But a casual glance at the loads at any refuse collection station would show a lot more of the contents could probably have been recovered. A few decades ago, garbage collectors picking out glass bottles, cardboard boxes and scrap metals used to be a common scene. But not any more. Second-hand shops which did a roaring trade buying and selling old furniture and clothes have also been on the decline. Today, all too often, these items are simply thrown into the rubbish bin along with other domestic refuse and then carted off to landfills. That is a pity. If people's wasteful habits can not be stopped, they should be made to pay for them, both directly and indirectly. Although Hong Kong abhors the idea of handing out subsidies to business, using the money generated by such levies to help the recycling industry make the SAR a more environmentally friendly place is worthy of serious consideration.