Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Macau lagging behind in plastic recycling

And no doubt the HKG import/re-export of Macau’s plastic was included in HKG’s ‘recycling’ figures ……………..until operation China ’Green Fence’ exposed it

Macau lagging behind in plastic recycling

10/07/2013 07:52:00 Sum Choi


Plastic is causing global pollution. Like many other countries, Macau is aiming to live greener by reducing the use of plastic materials, collecting used products, and recycling the collected plastics. In comparison with neighboring regions, however, Macau is only gaining ground in the first two initiatives, and faces an uphill mission when it comes to recycling plastic materials. The Macau Ecological Society lists the reasons why Macau is underdeveloped in plastic recycling.
In response to the Times’ inquiry about plastic control, the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) said their “Environmental Protection Fund” program launched in 2011 has so far (up to late May 2013) collected some 159,000 kg of plastic materials such as bottles, bags and other products through the facilities placed in over a dozen residential buildings across the city.
The department also has facilities in public places, which collected some 32,400 kg of plastics last year, or a monthly average of 2,700 kg. According to the authority’s 2012 annual report, plastic collection has been making progress in recent years, increasing from 47,008 kg in 2010 to some 64,368 kg last year.
But that is just a small percentage of the total amount of plastic consumed. Take plastic bags, one of the most widely used plastic products; DSPA’s survey (released last month) showed that each Macau citizen used 2.2 bags each day, creating an annual consumption of 450 million. The bags accounted for 4 percent of the total weight of all forms of solid waste produced by the city.
As a solution, the government has been implementing a “no-plastic bag day” on the 18th and 28th of each month. But the DSPA survey found only 20 percent of respondents knew about the program.
The authority is considering taking punitive measures, and studies have been made on the viability of imposing a MOP0.5 levy on each plastic bag used by shoppers. This measure was implemented in Hong Kong a few years ago. The survey showed that the Macau public is receptive of the idea: more than 60 percent of the respondents agreed to follow HK’s example by imposing the tax on users. Only around 20 percent of the respondents expressed reservations or outright opposition toward the proposal.
When it comes to plastic recycling, however, Macau lacks activity. DSPA did not give any statistics or plans for the area. The Macau Ecological Society said there’s a reason for this blackout.
“Macau’s plastic recycling market is too small to form a sizable industry to support a sustainable operation of recycling plants,” the environmental group told the Times. “Currently, recyclable solid waste, such as metals, papers and plastic, is all shipped to Hong Kong and then imported elsewhere (the mainland) for recycling.”
The green group said the business sector previously tried to establish and operate recycling plants in Macau, collecting plastics, tyres, paper, and even used cooking oil (for making soap). However, the collected waste was far below the quantity necessary to generate an economic impact and make the industry sustainable.
However, similar trials seem to have taken off in Taiwan. According to Anna Beech of Civic Exchange, Taiwan established the Plastics Industry Development Centre – funded by Taipei and the private sector – in 1992. It assists Taiwanese plastic industries by improving equipment, developing new materials, promoting international co-operation, and sharing technological advances to enhance competition.
“In 2011, 193,000 tonnes of plastic were recycled at a rate of 75 percent,” the senior project manager said. “These recycled plastics were made into products like clothes, toys, materials for building and construction, furniture, car parts and electronic products, generating some USD170 million in revenue.”
“In Hong Kong, we have reached crisis point. We produce 1,700 tonnes of plastic waste every day, yet we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with it. Instead, we ship it across the border to recycling plants on the mainland,” she lamented.
The situation in Macau is similar. The Ecological Society said they proposed that the government set up Macau’s own industrial park for plastic recycling. Over the past three years, the society has met regularly with authorities to discuss the proposal. However, the government rejected the idea, as no land is available for the project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *