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Former health chief rubbishes design of Hong Kong’s new bins

Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, the former Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, has said that the new bins had clearly not been tested before deployment and were ‘not logical’

The city’s newly introduced bins, which have smaller openings for rubbish, have been criticised as “not very logical” by a former health chief.

Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, the former Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food from 1999 to 2004, said that they lack a “human-centred design”, which is crucial for public health.

Speaking in the forum of Knowledge of Design Week, Yeoh, who heads the Chinese University’s Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, said the newly introduced rubbish bins were an example of design that has not been fully tested before deployment.

The bins were installed in busier districts from Monday this week as part of the government’s plan to solve the problem of oversized rubbish being dumped in public bins.

“People still perceive rubbish bins as garbage collecting points … more rubbish has been placed next to it,” said Yeoh, adding that it was a “question of design”.

The government has also installed around 2,000 recycling bins, around one-tenth the amount of ordinary rubbish bins, to encourage waste recycling, but the design of those bins discouraged people from using them, said Yeoh.

“The strength of the spring of the door sometimes makes it difficult to push the items into the bins without touching the door,” he said, which raises hygiene concerns.

Taking reference from bins in Barcelona, Spain, Yeoh said a more human-centred design could use a foot pedal for easier opening of the cover, and a larger size to avoid overflowing.

He said that a more effective way to reduce rubbish was to add more user-friendly recycling bins.

Poor design of rubbish bins was used as an example by Yeoh to illustrate the importance of design in facilitating a safer health care system in the city, which has always been “bombarded by medical incidents”.

He said feedback and indicators should be involved in public health care facilities to prevent human error, such as different designs of syringe for different chemotherapy drugs to avoid overdose.
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