Reducing Hong Kong’s huge volumes of waste will require a lot more effort from all
I entirely agree with Wong Lok-yi that restaurants can help to cut the enormous volume of daily refuse produced in Hong Kong, which is putting so much pressure on our landfills (“Fast-food chains could reduce waste”, November 30).
Styrofoam cannot be recycled using traditional methods and it takes a long time to degrade when dumped in landfills. Apart from shunning styrofoam, fast-food and casual restaurants can do their bit to reduce plastic waste as well. For example, reusable cutlery, instead of plastic sets, should be provided to dine-in customers. Also, casual restaurants should not hand out napkins and packets of ketchup. Instead, there should be sauce dispensers so that diners can help themselves.
Moreover, the mainland authorities’ recent tough stance on waste imports has to be relaxed, as we are after all part of the same country. They should be willing to continue to take material for recycling from Hong Kong, since we only have limited space.
We also need to raise levels of awareness, so that all citizens embrace the recycling culture. We need separate bins for paper, glass, metal and plastic in every building, and garbage collectors should be given more financial incentives to separate waste.
Education is crucially important, and from kindergarten children should be taught about the importance of recycling as part of our efforts to protect the environment.
We can also learn from other governments in the region. For instance, Taiwan has implemented successful policies aimed at drastically reducing volumes of waste. Its refuse charging scheme has provided revenue for a fund which promotes recycling and this is widespread throughout the island.
We have to accept that this is an ongoing war on waste and it will not be easy.
All companies and organisations must be more environmentally friendly. For example, big events organisers should be encouraged to reduce waste and increase their recycling efforts.
Allocating funds, promoting waste and recycling is money well spent by the government. With greater awareness throughout our community, hopefully citizens of all ages and from all walks of life will act more responsibly and recognise the need to reduce waste.
A. L. Nanik, Tsim Sha Tsui