In Round One of the Hong Kong Secondary Schools Debating Competition (Term 2), schools were asked to tackle the issue of waste management in Hong Kong.
Hongkongers produce huge amounts of waste every day. Reducing the amount of waste people produce, and encouraging them to sort and recycle that waste, are both viable solutions to the problem.
In places like Taiwan, waste has been reduced by not installing rubbish bins in public. Teams from Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College and Sha Tin Methodist College argued whether such a practice would suit Hong Kong. They debated the motion: "Hong Kong should reduce its number of public rubbish bins by at least 50 per cent."
Form One Chan Sui Ki students Earl Joshua Gonzales Agustin, Christian Yuen Ka-hang and Singh Paramdeep supported the motion. Form Two students Sha Tin Methodist students, Phoebe Yeung Lok-sze, Rachel Law Hei-laam and Isaac Lau Shun-ting, were against it.
The debate was adjudicated by Karen Wong, an English teacher at Po Leung Kuk Ngan Po Ling College.
Both sides agreed that teaching the public to reduce the amount of waste they produce is a good solution to easing the city's waste management problem, but they were at odds about how this can be achieved by reducing the number of rubbish bins.
The affirmative side proposed that cutting down the number of rubbish bin is an effective way to reduce waste because with fewer bins in public areas, citizens would think twice before producing rubbish. "Citizens would have to take their rubbish back home before disposing of it. They would be encouraged to sort their rubbish before dumping it at home," said Earl.
Speakers from Sha Tin Methodist believed there was no relationship between waste production and the number of rubbish bins in public, citing figures from nearby regions with more rubbish bins per person than Hong Kong, yet less waste production.
They also thought the city's hygiene would worsen if there were fewer rubbish bins.
Wong gave the win to the negative side because they were able to raise important issues regarding the motion that the affirmative side failed to address.
"Debaters from Sha Tin Methodist put forward two good questions - why the number of public rubbish bins needed to be reduced by at least 50 per cent, and not other percentages, for example 40 or 30 per cent. Secondly, they asked how reducing the number of bins was related to getting people to produce less waste. The affirmative side was not able to respond to these questions," she said.
Commenting on the overall performance of both teams, Wong reminded debaters to be more engaged with each other's speeches. "Debate is a communicative process; speakers should address questions raised by the opposition and not rely only on prepared materials," she said.
Isaac from Sha Tin Methodist was named best speaker of the debate.
The debate took place on March 25 at Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College in Ho Man Tin.