Hong Kong's three landfills will be full by the early 2010s. But we can help prolong their life by reducing and recycling waste. In order to do this, however, you have to separate your rubbish. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has been promoting recycling since the 1990s. Thanks to their efforts, most of us know the colour of the recycling bin we should use for different materials: blue for paper, brown for plastic and yellow for metal. There are around 28,000 sets of recycling bins placed in public estates, parks, libraries and other public areas in Hong Kong. 'It's a great idea to place recycling bins in public areas. However, there are too few of them,' says Michelle Au Wing-tsz from green group Friends of the Earth. 'When people finish a can of Coke on the street, how many of them bother to hold onto it long enough to find a yellow bin? They just simply throw it in a rubbish bin,' she says. 'Recycling is much more successful in places like Japan, Taiwan and Europe than in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government hasn't created corresponding laws or incentives to support recycling. 'This makes citizens less willing to recycle.' The EPD launched the Programme on Source Separation of Domestic Waste in 2005 to encourage people to separate their waste for recycling. However, it has had little effect on private individuals. According to Ms Au, far more industrial waste than domestic rubbish is recycled. 'Around 60 per cent of industrial waste is recycled. But only 23 per cent of domestic waste is recycled.' Explaining why so few people bother to recycle their domestic waste, Ms Au says: 'It takes too much co-operation between the building management, cleaning staff and residents. It's not compulsory, and without punishment or reward, it's hard to get people involved. 'If you care about your home, separating your domestic waste is an important step in effective recycling. It's easy and every single household can do it. 'You can use three plastic bags to separate the metal, plastic and paper from your domestic waste. 'When you've collected a substantial amount, just take it to the nearest recycling bins. It's easy.' discuss 1 How can we encourage people to separate and recycle their waste? 2 Apart from protecting the environment, what are the advantages of recycling? what you can do Most metals can be recycled, but not all kinds of plastic and paper. You might need to do a little screening and preparation when you are separating your waste products. Paper coated with a thin plastic cannot be recycled easily, so put it in the regular bin. Examples include fax paper, drinks cartons and wrapping paper. Styrofoam is hard to recycle because it is very bulky but actually contains a very small amount of plastic. Remove any plastic or paper covering cans before recycling. Remove staples and clips before recycling paper. Wash metal and plastic containers before recycling. Find out where your nearest recycling bins are and make the effort to take your recyclable materials there regularly.