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Three-colour recycle bins are window dressing and a sham

02 April 2015

I refer to the letter by Wong Hon-meng, assistant director, Environmental Protection Department (“Promoting recycling and waste reduction are top priorities”, March 23).

He claims that by 2022, Hong Kong will reduce its per capita waste generated by 40 per cent.

How has the department come up with this percentage? Most likely it has simply copied statistics from Taipei and Seoul where a 40 per cent reduction was achieved after waste charging took effect. But those cities developed comprehensive measures to sort and separate waste before they implemented waste charging, as pointed out in my letter (“Waste charge futile without separation of rubbish at source”, February 24).

The three-colour recycling bins are window dressing and a sham: only 700 tonnes of recyclables are collected every year, less than 0.02 per cent of the waste produced in Hong Kong. Operated by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, a clear accounting is yet to be published on how the collected waste is being disposed.

The department still does not have correct data as to how much waste is being recycled, having admitted previous figures were wrong, double counting recycled waste shipped to the mainland with that in transit through Hong Kong from overseas.

The HK$1 billion Recycling Fund Wong mentions is more window dressing. It is 3.5 per cent of the HK$29 billion budget for the incinerator and landfills expansion.

The proposed community education and recycling centres to be built in the 18 districts are handouts to pro-government environmental groups and subsidies to companies that collect recycled waste and ship it to the mainland, where 90 per cent of Hong Kong’s recycled waste ends up.

Despite talking about “policy” and “campaign”, the department has no intention of truly pursuing a recycling policy as many countries have.

There is no policy to develop a sustainable indigenous recycling industry, no statutory requirement nor public education on how to separate waste at source. Despite the many so-called inspection trips overseas by senior officials, paid for by taxpayers’ money, no insight and plan were presented on how other countries promote and implement effective recycling.

Given the above, it is ironic that Hong Kong will be hosting an international conference on solid waste management in May. Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing will be the keynote speaker. What is he going to say?

Tom Yam, Lantau

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