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Hong Kong environmental issues

Going to any of these eight major Hong Kong events next year? You’ll have to watch your trash

Organisers receive guidelines in bid to reduce waste and become environmentally friendly

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 7:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 1:36pm

Eight major public events in Hong Kong that attract millions of people every year will carry out waste audits and implement waste reduction measures under the first such guidelines to be issued by authorities on Monday.

Drafted by the Environmental Protection Department and the Business Environment Council, the guidelines aim to help event organisers design measures to manage and recycle waste from their activities.

The eight events are the Brands and Products Expo Fair, the Lunar New Year fair at Victoria Park, the Flower Show, the New World Harbour Race, the Hong Kong Marathon, the Wine and Dine Festival, the Hong Kong Sevens rugby event and the Tai Kok Tsui Temple Fair.

“The eight events have been identified by the department to be the first batch to try out the solutions provided in the guidelines,” Leung Chi-fung, operations director of the council, said.

Leung said the organisers had been told to conduct waste audits with their contracted cleaners so that the effectiveness of the plan could be better measured.

Employing excessive amounts of single-use objects such as plastic cups and plates, and improper practices in sorting and recycling waste, such as disposing without cleaning, were among the top five causes of waste problems identified at events.

Waste disposal charge will cost a typical Hong Kong family HK$51 a month

The guidelines include suggestions for event organisers, such as replacing paper invitations with e-promotions, providing a bucket to drain bottles of liquid before disposal into recycling bins, and reusing or donating leftover supplies from festivities after careful sorting.

“Many public event organisers haven’t done enough in waste reduction and recycling so we would like to start early to prepare them for the municipal solid waste charging scheme, which is set to take effect at the end of 2019,” Vicki Kwok Wong Wing-ki, deputy head of the department, said.

Under the coming scheme mentioned by Kwok, there would be a charge of HK$365 or HK$395 levied on each tonne of waste collected at these events, with the amount depending on the transfer stations they are sent to before disposal at landfills.

But Kowk said abiding by the guidelines was “purely voluntary” and the measures “aimed to promote the culture of waste reduction”.

Jenny Chan Heung-lin, chairwoman of the Tai Kok Tsui Temple Fair, said by following the guidelines, the full-day event scheduled on March 4, 2018, would save 6,300 plastic bottles, 5,400 pieces of disposable tableware, 2,000 packs of wet paper napkins and 500 sheets of plastic table cover.

“We will provide water for people to refill their bottles instead of distributing free bottled drinks. We will use recyclable tableware and table covers,” Chan said, adding that the environmentally friendly measures would raise the cost of the event by about HK$30,000, but the price was acceptable.

Robbie McRobbie, CEO of the Rugby Union, said the government should consider rewarding event organisers with good waste reduction records or reject future applications of those who failed to meet certain waste reduction standards.

The Hong Kong Sevens was cited by the department as an example of good practice. From 2013 to 2015, the event reduced its refuse weight by more than 50 per cent – from 201.23 tonnes to 100.35 tonnes – and increased the weight of recyclables collected by about 30 per cent, from 11.08 tonnes to 14.36 tonnes.