What a waste: better uses for old cartons

Local | Adeline Mak 20 Jun 2016

People in Hong Kong dump 43,000 tonnes of beverage cartons into landfills every year even though they can be recycled into paper or fuel, a green group said.

Green Power urged the government to launch a producer responsibility scheme similar to that for glass bottles and for producers to carry out recycling before it can be launched.

Green Power estimated some 3.7 billion cartons are disposed of each year, enough to fill 16.9 Hong Kong stadiums. It said 116 cartons are disposed of every second while, on average, each resident throws out one and a half cartons every day.

The group estimated it may cost around HK$20 million to handle the cartons in landfills.

The government is set to launch a manufacturers' responsibility scheme for glass bottles in 2018.

Assistant senior education and project officer Adonia Lam Sze-ki said there are no facilities to recycle beverage cartons, which now take up space in landfills.

"Cartons, which are made of paper, plastic and aluminum, can be recycled to produce paper and fuel with two to three times higher energy efficiency and 70 percent less ash than burning coal," Lam said.

Lam also said the paper fiber contained in cartons can be recycled into paper products of higher quality.

Green Power contacted eight major beverage producers and none of them indicated there is ongoing recycling of cartons.

"The beverage producers are earning tens of millions of profits but make the public pay the bill," Lam said.

"They do not shoulder their environmental responsibility. We urge them to recycle the cartons they produce with a timetable announced."

Lam said that it took the government nearly 10 years to come up with the producer responsibility scheme for glass bottles so it could take some time to legislate on beverage cartoons.

As such it should encourage producers to take the initiative to recycle for the time being before the launch of such a scheme.

Lam said the recycling rates of cartons in Japan, Taiwan and the mainland reached 50, 30 and 10 percent.

Education officer Tommy Yu Kin- kong said: "In the long run, we hope beverage cartons will be recycled regularly like paper and aluminum cans."

Some 16,000 cartons collected in the campus recycling scheme launched by Green Power at 10 schools from January to May will be sent to Japan for recycling.

adeline.mak@singtaonewscorp.co= m

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