Waste Not, Want Not: Recycling eats up our food waste

Waste Not, Want Not: Recycling eats up our food waste

Up to 40 per cent of all rubbish in Hong Kong comes from food, so learning how to put it to good use can make a big difference to our landfills


The visit to Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre proved an eye-opening experience for our junior reporters.
The visit to Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre proved an eye-opening experience for our junior reporters.
Photos: John Kang/SCMP
Right next to the imposing structure of MegaBox stands the humble-looking Kowloon Bay Waste Recycling Centre (KBWRC).

Here, 10 enthusiastic and environmentally-conscious students met Kwok Ying-ying and Patrick Tsui of Greeners Action last Tuesday as part of Young Post's "Waste Not, Want Not" campaign.

Kwok, the senior project officer of the local NGO, gave a presentation about Hong Kong's food waste problem and how to recycle food waste to turn it into useful products.

"I learned that food waste can be reused," says Shahul Hameed Nuaim, of Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College. "We were taught how to make compost, and this inspired me to make it for our school. It's easy to make and reduces food waste."

Sally Tan Wai-zhen, of Pentecostal School, echoed Shahul's sentiments. "I think I can make the compost at home," she says. "It's really that simple."

Food waste is a big problem, constituting more than a third of all waste in Hong Kong. Fortunately, the KBWRC saves literally tonnes of food waste, converting up to 90 per cent into useful products, such as compost.

The compost they make is then distributed to organic farmers to use as fertiliser for their organic crops.

To make compost, simply put the food waste in an airtight container, then add Bokashi recycling powder (micro-organisms which help ferment the food waste). After 10 to 14 days of fermentation, mix this with soil, and you'll have compost.

Kwok gave the students some other tips on how else food waste can be put to use.

"Orange peel can be cut into small pieces, mixed with water and sugar, and left in a plastic bottle for three months. This makes detergent," says Samuel Tsang Kam-hei, from Pentecostal School.

His schoolmate, Sandy Chiu Puk-ki, says: "You can use egg shells as fertilisers for plants; or if you turn them to powder, you can put them in your coffee or congee. They're great for the elderly because they contain calcium."

Sandy's classmate, Tim Deng Tian-qing, says healthy drinks can be made from kumquat peels. "Simply add some salt with the kumquat peel in a glass container, add some sugar, and drink it when you have a sore throat," he says.

The visit ended with a bus tour of KBWRC; the food waste's strong smell made staying on the bus essential. But looking closely out the windows, the students were able to view the conversion process.

Going home for dinner, the students left with new knowledge about where their leftovers may end up one day.

You may not have time to get involved with our project but that doesn't mean you can't do your part to reduce food waste. Join us in our Green Ribbon Campaign and sign the pledge to limit your own food waste!

Read about the workshops:

- Visit to South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill

- Planting crops at Fruitful Organic Farm

- Bread Run with Feeding Hong Kong to collect leftover pastries

- Visit to Hong Kong Science Park to see technology that put leftover food to new uses

- Learn how the chefs at the Hyatt Regency Shatin use leftovers to create new dishes

- Elvis Au, assistant director at the Environmental Protection Department, explains what the government is doing to fight food waste

- See what some schools are already doing with their food waste



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