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Organic waste – helps cut out garbage piles

HK Standard

Monday, April 02, 2012

Separate disposal of recyclable organic waste can help households reduce the volume of total garbage by up to 60 percent.

That is the finding of a trial scheme by Friends of the Earth that saw families separate recyclable food waste from their garbage.

The green group called for more organic-waste recycling facilities to encourage families to agree to its proposed “trash-tax” scheme.

“We hope the government can give more support to food-waste reycling because we found that separating recyclable food waste from garbage can result in enormous cost savings under a waste-charging scheme due to the lower amount of rubbish disposed,” Friends of the Earth environmental affairs manager Celia Fung Sze-lai said.

The domestic food-waste separation scheme, carried out in 122 households last month, measured the effect such a separation may have on volume when a charging scheme is implemented.

Households were given white garbage bags and divided into two groups: one that carried out waste separation and a control group that disposed garbage as normal.

The control group used up an average of 24 garbage bags per month, compared with just 10 – or 60 percent less – for the waste separators.

Based on waste treatment cost, the price of a garbage bag should be HK$1.30, the group estimates. This means a family that separates its food waste need only pay HK$13 a month if a waste-charging scheme is introduced, equal to the price of a cheeseburger, Fung said.

The Environment Bureau says the SAR produces about 3,200 tonnes of food waste daily, two-thirds of which come from households.

Much of this waste is mixed with other non-recyclable waste, rendering it unsuitable for recycling, Fung said.

It is also a problem in municipal landfills, as organic waste breaks down to produce methane, a greenhouse gas with a warming effect that is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

“That is why organic recycling is a no-brainer,” said Fung. “It’s cheaper to recycle food waste than to consign it to valuable landfill space, and the compost can be sold as organic fertilizer.”

Nearly 90 percent of the experimental group felt food recycling is convenient, while almost all families were open to recycling food waste.

Fung called on the government to offer more collection facilities at housing estates and more compost facilities to handle organic waste.

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