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Built-in refund can be good news for recycling in Hong Kong


Jun 03, 2012

I refer to the letter by Syed M. Sumayed (“HK cannot solve its serious waste problems with stopgap measures”, May 27). The idea, in principle, of a charge for polluters is good, but it could be better.

A charge added to a product’s sales price, which would be refunded upon return to the store, would be a much better solution. This way we would charge polluters but help recyclers.

Take, for example, batteries. Add, let’s say, HK$10 to the price, but give back HK$10 if the product gets returned to the store for recycling. With bottles, add, let’s say, HK$2 per bottle and offer a refund when it is returned to the shop.

The same could be done with plastic packaging (for example bottles of laundry detergent and softener), with HK$5 added and refunded when the packaging is returned.

This could be coupled with new government rules that plastic could no longer be used for packaging liquids, just glass, and that manufacturers have to take back their waste if they wish to sell products on the Hong Kong market. Trucks transporting produce to point-of-sale locations would no longer need to waste the empty return trip, but instead return full with empty packaging material to be reused.

This in turn would create extra jobs at manufacturing plants, as all this material would have to be prepared for reuse.

The commercial trade might cry foul and say this isn’t possible in crowded Hong Kong due to space limitations. My answer to that is to open the market; those who don’t want to listen can take the highway and make way for more willing companies which want to support Hong Kong and do things the right way.

Marco Veringa, Tsim Sha Tsui

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