A 63-year-old cardboard collector has had her HK$1,500 littering fine cancelled, after a concern group submitted a petition calling on the authorities to reconsider their decision.
On July 23 in North Point, cardboard collector Chen Kung-lan, 63, was fined when she put a rubbish bag on the ground temporarily to prevent her trolley from tipping over. She was fined by officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), who argued that Chen violated the law as soon as the bag touched the ground.
The Waste Picker Platform collected 1,563 signatures in an online petition calling for Chen’s fine to be dropped. The petition also urged the government to adopt a more compassionate policy towards cardboard collectors. They submitted their petition together with a letter appealing against the fine to the FEHD on July 30.
Chen was told on Monday that the department would no longer prosecute her.
“I am very happy and thankful to the public for the support in helping me to achieve justice,” said Chen.
Cardboard collectors are known as “cardboard grannies” because almost all of them are women. They earn a living by collecting waste materials left on the street and selling them to recyclers.
The platform called for greater communication between FEHD officers and residents. They suggested that the government set up “recycling spaces” around town, to give cardboard collectors more space to work and handle waste without fear of being prosecuted.
The platform also invited the directors of the FEHD and Environmental Protection Department to experience the work of a cardboard collector for a day, while also suggesting that members of the platform could also shadow FEHD officers, to understand their operations.