Green groups call for less use of paper, amid Hong Kong collection strike

Consumers advised to store waste and to buy products without packaging

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 11:29pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 September, 2017, 12:14am

Green groups have called on Hongkongers to use less paper and store waste paper at offices or homes as part of measures to address a week-long halt in waste paper collection.

The call came as exporters stopped collecting waste paper on Friday, after the mainland tightened the issuing of approval notices to plants that import overseas waste. The tightening follows a policy tweak from Beijing that would ban 24 types of imported waste by the end of the year.

The city’s recyclers collect around 2,600 tonnes of waste paper daily, and advocacy group The Green Earth warned more than 18,000 tonnes of waste paper could be sent to landfill if it cannot be recycled.

“Hongkongers are all responsible for producing the waste, and we should help solve the problem,” Edwin Lau Che-feng, the group’s executive director, said.

Lau said offices and schools could reduce printing or print on both sides of each piece of paper. Waste paper should also be stored on companies’ own premises if it can not be collected for recycling, he said.

Patsy Cheng Man-wah from sustainability concern group SEE Network recommended people buy products without packaging.

Recyclers brace for full impact of temporary ban on waste paper collection

Lau said major companies such as the MTR Corporation and CLP Power had responded positively in support of such action.

The MTR Corp said collection services of waste paper for recycling remained normal at all of its stations. It said it also adopted various environmentally friendly measures, such as encouraging staff to read documents on a screen rather than printing them.

CLP Power said measures in waste paper management had been in place since 2015. Those included targets in reducing the company’s annual consumption of paper.

Meanwhile, a waste recycling firm has also offered help to other recyclers who face difficulties storing paper.

Allan Wong Wing-ho, director of Chun Shing Development, said trucks from his company could help collect waste paper and send it to Southeast Asia for recycling.

Peter Chiu Yat-fai from School of Poverty Caring under Mission to New Arrivals also called for support for scrap paper collectors, whose livelihoods could be affected by a drop in the price of waste paper.

He said the organisation had mobilised volunteers from 15 other groups to offer help to waste paper collectors.