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Encourage more recycling in offices

SCMP – 24 April 2012

The government has not shown sufficient support for the recycling industry and a policy rethink is needed.

The government-funded Eco Park in Tuen Mun has become a hub for recycling firms. However, even with equipment, rent and other subsidies, some companies are making a loss, while others have not met production targets. The current subsidy mechanism is not sustainable. Recyclable waste, including plastic, is mainly collected from recycling bins in public areas, such as MTR stations and car parks. But the system relies on people bringing material all the way from their homes or offices.

The government can help revitalise the recycling industry by collaborating with corporations on waste collection. Recycling bins could be placed in offices, with regular collections arranged. Tax incentives would ensure more companies participated. Firms that joined up would enhance their reputation, as they would be seen as embracing corporate social responsibility.

In Hong Kong, people work long hours in offices and generate a lot of paper, plastic and metal waste. Corporate events, such as banquets and parties, also leave large amounts of refuse. Having recyclable waste collections in these offices and in business districts would reduce the pressure on landfills and enable recycling firms to better utilise facilities.

The government has made advances in environmental protection with the plastic bag levy and idling engine ban. Now it should regard the revitalisation of Hong Kong’s recycling sector as a high priority.

In order to support this industry, our top officials must think outside the box. Subsidies are of little use unless the recycling industry is given the opportunity to grow. The government should also hire foreign experts in this field to get advice on how recycling firms can survive and then expand.

Andy Cheng Pak-fai, North Point

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