Hong Kong is a world city and global tourist destination. Hong Kong is becoming more widely known for its magnificent green belts and hiking trails. Yet Hong Kong is littered with discarded drink containers, in the streets, on the trails. Over 2,000 tonnes of plastic is dumped in Hong Kong each day (that’s 730,000 tonnes a year) and only 83,000 tonnes per year is recycled. That means more than 600,000 tonnes is added to landfill or the landscape every year. A Container Deposit Scheme will help to increase recycling and provide an income source for low income earners.
The current Take Your Litter Home (TYLH) campaign run by the AFCD and volunteer groups has shown significant results with nominated trails producing less litter. However, drink containers are the most common items removed from hiking trails by volunteer groups. A Survey of recent beach clean-up waste collection has shown that 70% of beach waste in Hong Kong has its origin in Hong Kong, and plastic drink containers are a significant constituent. The source of the problem is drink containers sold in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Hiking Meetup’s policy to minimise single use bottles on hikes has been eagerly adopted by its 17,000 members and demonstrated how the outdoors can be enjoyed with responsibility. Pacific Coffee in Hong Kong recently ran a lid refund program and managed to collect 6,000 lids through 30 stores in 1 month. Many groups volunteer their time cleaning coast lines. The public is ready.
What’s happening elsewhere?
The City of San Francisco has banned the sale of single use bottles under 21oz capacity. Ten states in the United States have container Deposit Schemes. In Australia, The State of South Australia has had deposit scheme in place for more than 3o years and was recently joined by the Northern Territory and New South Wales has announced legislation for 2017. At least 15 countries have active container deposit schemes including Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Fiji.
Some would say current recycling programs are enough – that a Container Deposit Scheme is not needed. But the facts speak for themselves, there is not enough recycling in Hong Kong. Coca Cola’s web site in Australia says the net cost to consumers is 1.35% increase in costs. If drink containers impose a cost on the environment those consuming them should pay for that. Others will claim that it is too difficult. However, with more than 15 countries operating schemes and some for over 30 years, Hong Kong with its high density is up to the challenge of becoming a smart city.
Cleaner Hong Kong – with higher recycling rates Hong Kong will be a cleaner place to live and visit.
Income for low income earners – the scheme would provide a way for low income earners to increase their income.
Example of leadership in the region – Asia has the highest level of plastic waste in the world. This is an opportunity for Hong Kong to show leadership on an important issue in the Region.
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