Letters | Hong Kong staring at plastic waste crisis if workable recycling plan remains out of reach
- With mainland China set to stop solid waste imports, and stricter controls imminent on global plastic waste movement, the Hong Kong government must show it is capable of more than its pitiful efforts so far to sort and recycle
In new legislation passed in April, China reaffirmed its intent to move towards zero solid waste imports. The waste-exporting nations that kept putting contaminated material in their recyclables have only themselves to blame for causing China to take this step. For Hong Kong, managing our own waste instead of relying on the mainland would perfectly illustrate the spirit of “one country, two systems”.
Last year, our industry invested in building three plastic recycling plants in Hong Kong and these are expected to become operational later this year. These plants require a continuous feedstock of used plastics to process, and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles are among the kind of waste they need to produce profitable food-grade materials. The challenge is that they may not be able to collect the roughly 20 tonnes of PET bottles needed per day per plant.
However, the city needs much stronger measures than those announced. In the absence of waste charging and producer responsibility regulations, the government must expand its plastic collection scheme to all districts within the tenure of this administration; retrofit material recovery facilities at refuse transfer stations and at the entrance of landfills to extract recyclables from mixed dry trash; and introduce a landfill ban for plastic and other types of resources that would steer us away from the waste crisis.
Edwin Lau Che-feng, executive director, The Green Earth