Green stations show way cutting waste

Local | Kay Wong 9 Sep 2019

A Shau Kei Wan "green station" has helped collect 1,400 tonnes of materials for recycling since it opened in August four years ago, Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun said.

The Eastern Community Green Station, on Oi Shun Road, is among the first batch of stations that were commissioned in 2015, along with the one in Sha Tin.

Five others are in operation in Kwun Tong, Yuen Long, Sham Shui Po, Tuen Mun and Kwai Tsing.

The network of green stations was established by the Environmental Protection Department to strengthen support for waste reduction and recycling at the district level.

Two stations are under construction in Tai Po and on Lantau, while others in Sai Kung and Wan Chai are being designed.

Eastern station opened in September 2015, and is operated by the Po Leung Kuk.

The station mainly provides support for the community in the collection of recyclables such as waste paper, plastic, metals, electrical appliances, fluorescent tubes, glass bottles and rechargeable batteries.

The operator has arrangements with housing estates for the collection of recyclables. It has also set up collection points. The items are delivered to recyclers.

However, Lo Yiu-chuen, vice-president of the Hong Kong Environmental Industry Association, doubts the effectiveness of the stations in increasing plastic waste collection.

"The amount of plastic waste collected in Hong Kong has always been low," Lo said. "Less than one to two kilograms of plastic waste is collected each day at the green stations."

Lo added that even among collected plastic waste in Hong Kong, around 95 to 98 percent ends up at landfills.

"Only one to two recycling factories in Hong Kong deal with plastic waste due to high cost, and it is difficult to transport plastic waste back to the mainland as they have adopted stricter quality standards," he said.

Lo suggests the government adopt a producer responsibility scheme for plastic products to increase waste collection.

Jacky Lau Yiu-shing, director of the Hong Kong Recycled Materials and Re-production Business General Association, drew attention to the difficulties of waste paper collection.

"Mainland China has adopted stricter policies toward waste paper import, which led to a drop in purchase price.

The amount of waste paper collected by frontline recycling companies has dropped since early-2019 as they lack incentives to collect waste paper," Lau said.

He suggested the government introduce more financial initiatives to increase waste paper collection by recycling companies.

Apart from recycling services, the operator of the Eastern station has also organized public education activities, such as exhibitions, seminars and workshops, to instill a green living culture in the community and increase the amount of collected recyclables in the district.

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