Hong Kong’s railway operator may have been expending all efforts to crack down on buskers and extra-large musical instruments, but environmentalists are wondering why it can’t do the same for waste. Statistics show MTR facilities, including the Airport Express, are conveniently equipped with about 3,000 rubbish bins – but only 160 sets of tri-coloured waste separation recycling bins. Environmental activist Hahn Chu Hon-keung, who studies the impact of bins on waste generation, says recycling bins are even harder to find once passengers get past the turnstiles. “There are an average of about 34 bins per station, adding up to a total of nearly 3,000," Chu said. "There are fewer than two recycling bins at each station ... This is a very disproportionate ratio. Does recycling [in MTR stations] have to be like a scavenger hunt?” READ MORE: How education can change people's attitudes about waste disposal Chu, who used to belong to a support group on waste charging for a government advisory body, the Council for Sustainable Development under the Environment Bureau, said the large number of rubbish bins with wide openings inside all stations was not conducive to reducing waste at source or improving the rate of recycling. He suggested that the MTR Corporation gradually reduce the number of individual rubbish bins and set up duo-purpose bins separating rubbish from reusable waste. A trial scheme could be introduced to get passengers used to the arrangement. Chu said based on his observations and photographs of the insides of MTR rubbish bins, at least 20 per cent of their contents were plastic bottles, aluminium cans, newspapers and food wrappers. READ MORE: Hong Kong's plan to reduce its waste enters the realm of fantasy Other than waste paper boxes used to hold the mountains of free newspapers that are distributed across the stations each day, the railway giant allocates few resources to collecting materials such as plastics and cans, though it has recycling points for old batteries. The MTR Corp said it did not keep any statistics on the amount of waste it collected, disposed of or recycled. Rubbish bin deployment was based on considerations such as passenger habits, station layout and human traffic flow, it said. “The current observation is that it meets our passengers’ needs,” a spokesman said. “We will continue to do our best … and may review the arrangements if necessary.” READ MORE: Straight to landfill? Why Hong Kong is recycling less of your rubbish Separately, an investigation by green group Friends of the Earth highlighted possible flaws in how the MTR’s cleaning contractors recycled plastics. A recent video taken by the group showed cleaners collecting materials from the recycling and rubbish bins and taking the stuff to an alley, where they placed waste paper in a recycling crate and the rest, including plastics and metals, in other containers bound for the rubbish storehouse. Senior environmental affairs officer Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung said in response to the video: “We asked the cleaners and they said they would just throw [the plastic bottles] away or put them in the government’s three-coloured bins. “Every cleaner had their own method of dealing with plastic bottle waste.” The MTR Corp said its cleaning contractors were responsible under their contracts for sorting reusable materials – paper, plastic and metal – and sending them to selected registered recyclers.