Perspectives June 2017 | Youth Hong Kong
Looking to the Future
Dealing with waste W
here does your rubbish go? Do you sort it? Do you collect recyclables or reuse them? Don’t delay, says sustainable development analyst Gary Lee.
Every day each of us puts about 1.3kg of rubbish in the bin.1 That’s a lot more than neighbouring cities such as Taipei, Seoul and Metro Tokyo where the rates are under 1kg per person.2 Experts point to three factors: our consumerist culture, small homes and busy lives.3
To find out more, I went to a public forum at the Environmental Protection Department. The government representatives were confident, referring to the results achieved by Taipei City and South Korea after introducing waste charging over a decade ago. [See Figure 1]
Most of Hong Kong’s rubbish goes into landfills. Only about 37% is recycled.4 The situation is unsustainable. Something has to be done to change our ways. We have tried charging for plastic bags. Now what?
However, they were rather vague when it came to the actual implementation of the Hong Kong scheme and their explanations were muddled, especially where enforcement strategy for non-compliance was concerned. Plans to improve the system of recycling and reuse were also unclear.
The government has decided to change behaviour. Pointing to our pockets, it will soon be making a typical Hong Kong family pay approximately HK$50 per month5 on the “Polluter Pays” principle, targeting a drop of 40% in the waste disposal rate.6 I asked my friends and family members whether paying for waste disposal would mean they threw less away. Most agreed it would, although the less environmentallyminded complained about the proposed charging method and questioned the use of funds raised by charging.