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Bins on Hong Kong hiking trails gone for good, as the government seeks to further reduce litter

A total of 553 bins along hiking trails have been removed since 2015, which has contributed to a decline in the amount of litter in country parks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 9:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 3:49pm

Rubbish bins disappeared for good on Hong Kong’s hiking trails on Friday, as the government completed a two-year project to reduce litter in the city’s scenic country parks.

Hikers will have to bring their rubbish home now, after a total of 553 rubbish and recycling bins had been gradually removed since 2015 by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The phase-out had contributed to a decline in litter collected in country parks, which fell 10 per cent to 3,400 tonnes last year from 2014, according to the department. The number of people it prosecuted for littering also plummeted to 39 for the first eleven months this year, down from 202 in 2013.

For an international metropolis, Hong Kong is surprisingly green – its 24 country parks make up 40 per cent of the city’s 1,108 square kilometres of land in total.

Overflowing rubbish bins along hiking trails were a common sight during weekends and holidays, posing a threat to the environment and wild animals foraging through bins.

“There used to be so much rubbish three to four years ago, around 40 to 50 bags a day, especially on Christmas or Mid-Autumn Festival” said Chan Tat-yan, a field assistant at Lion Rock Country Park who had been picking up rubbish and maintaining facilities in various parks for 26 years.

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This year, the amount of rubbish was down to around a dozen bags each day, with one bag weighing around seven kilograms, Chan said.

“I’m very thankful that people have been very cooperative,” he added. It took him three hours to carry six bags of garbage on a shoulder pole down the mountain every day.

About 160 workers such as Chan help keep the country parks clean across the city, according to James Luk, a country parks official with the department.

With no more bins, they would be assigned more valuable work such as repairing facilities such as benches to pavilions, he said.

Hikers welcomed the change.

James Lam, 36, said it was “natural for us to take our litter home” and noted that “litter could harm wild animals”.

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“I will definitely stop bringing bottled water to hikes,” he added.

Outdoor enthusiast Huang Yilan, 24, has lived in Hong Kong for four years and believed people who littered “probably felt it was nothing”.

“But if they know enough about the planning of the bins, most nature lovers and hikers would not mind the small trouble of taking trash home,” Huang said.