Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department makes recycling easy with chatbot and AR game

  • Recycling points will be added to every district in the city and the Big Waster Chatbot on Facebook will help answer questions in Chinese
  • Recycle different kinds of waste to get special photo frames on Instagram and eventually win a food container 
YP Team |
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You might know where to recycle paper and cans, but how about glass and batteries? Photo: EPA

Recycling has never been this much fun, or so easy. In fact, it’s so easy you might even be able to get your grandparents to do it.

The Environmental Protection Department has just started two new ways to help Hongkongers learn about recycling, a chatbot, and an AR (augmented reality) game. And, in more good news, there will be recycling points in every district in the city.

The Environment Bureau's Big Waster is a popular mascot for the department. Photo: Facebook

Up until now, environmentally aware citizens knew a lot about recycling paper, plastic and aluminium cans. But glass bottles, fluorescent light tubes, rechargeable batteries, small electrical gadgets such as hair driers or vacuum cleaners, and some electronic equipment such as computer screens and television sets can also be recycled. Not everyone knows that.

The Big Waster Chatbot will be hanging out on the department’s Facebook page. It will be able to answer questions in Chinese, and help users find their nearest trash collection point.

Single-use face masks pose an environmental problem for Hong Kong

The AR game has already started on Facebook, but so many people have taken part that the organisers decided to let players use it on Instagram, too. To compete, players need to collect one example of each kind of recyclable waste. They can take photographs of each kind of waste, with the game’s main character, Big Waster, and his new buddy, Greeny. Each type of material has its own special photo frame. Once they have all eight photos, users can submit them to the department to win a special Big Waster-shaped food container.

Hongkongers have had to make a lot of changes to their normal way of life during the pandemic. Many people these days prefer takeaway food, rather than eating in a restaurant. So more families will be using plastic bags, and disposable, but not very environmentally friendly, food containers. Getting your hands on a Big Waster food box would be great. But even if you don’t, you could take your own container to collect your takeaway.

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