Why is HK so bad at recycling?

Why is HK so bad at recycling?


Why can't Hong Kong deal with its plastic better?
Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

Although Hong Kong is a hi-tech city, we are well behind other developed economies when it comes to environmental awareness.

According to a survey, Hongkongers use more than 1.4 billion plastic straws every year. The rapid expansion of Taiwanese bubble tea shops here has worsened the problem.

Places such as Taiwan are ahead of us. The island hopes to ban plastic bags, cutlery, straws, and cups by 2030.

A New York company, Loliware, has invented Lolistraw, a straw that can be eaten. It can even be reused once it’s dried. This is just one of the solutions for the many environmental problems facing the world.

The Hong Kong government must follow in the footsteps of Loliware and do research which could show us the way to tackle the city’s pollution crisis.

Lily Yip Kai-kai, Leung Shek Chee College

Upcycling trash to treasure will change the way you see waste

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Lily. Hong Kong’s approach to waste has long been a concern. Until very recently, it was difficult to find a place to recycle, unlike in Japan. For years in Japan, there have been recycling bins next to regular bins, which makes a lot of sense. Another example is the shortage of glass recycling bins in the city, even though glass is easy to recycle.

Even if we do put things in the recycling bins, it is very difficult to find out how much of it is actually recycled. Statistics from the government in December said that 97 per cent of “recycling” in Hong Kong is sent to the mainland and other countries. Can we be sure that it is, in fact, recycled?

Although much of the focus recently has been on the problem of plastic straws, by weight they only add up to 0.03 per cent of all plastic in the oceans. Of course, this is still too much, and Hongkongers in particular are guilty of throwing away too much (on average, 1kg of waste a day!). And the relatively small amount they account for doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reduce our use of straws (not just plastic – paper straws don’t break down fast enough to be that beneficial).

From your description, it would definitely be good to see our government investing in researching solutions such as Lolistraws.

Karly, deputy editor


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