Should people be fined if they don't recycle?

Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 18, SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School

Sustainable development has become the number one goal in the world. Recycling should be common now, but for several reasons it has not become popular in Hong Kong.

Landfill sites will be saturated in a few years. Different schemes have been carried out to promote recycling. Households, offices and schools are encouraged to recycle waste. Trash should be separated into paper, plastics and metals. There are also programmes for recycling rechargeable batteries and computers.

Some households and offices refuse to recycle because they insist that waste materials are hard to classify. This is only an excuse. Hong Kong people make decisions only based on self-interest. They do not care about the world. They regard the pollution problem as external and simply ignore it.

According to the 'polluter pays principle' endorsed by United Nations members, fines or fees should be charged. Polluters should be required to pay the cost of services if they do not recycle.

Hopefully, with the help of education and promotion, recycling will become an everyday job for all of us.

Anthea Wong, 17, Hong Kong International School

One of the greatest issues in our world today is the dwindling of resources, destruction of the environment and depletion of energy supplies. If every one of us picks up the simple habit of recycling, we can reduce these environmental problems. Although recycling is extremely important, people should not be fined if they don't recycle.

People should not be forced to recycle. We should only be fined when we are causing inconvenience or harming others. Speeding on the highway is extremely dangerous and smoking causes others to suffer from second-hand smoking. Although failing to recycle can damage the environment, it is not directly harmful to others. Why should people be fined for merely wasting resources?

If people who don't recycle are fined, it would be very difficult to monitor. There are about 7 million people in Hong Kong, so there would have to be more resources allocated to catch this harmless group.

Recycling should be treated as a bonus, not as a requirement. It promotes sustainability of our Earth, but it is unjust to fine people for refusing to save the environment.