Mooncake mountain going to waste

Local | Sophie Hui 22 Sep 2017

More than 1.5 million mooncakes ended up in trash cans last year, as did 40 million light sticks, a green group said.

Green Power said it interviewed 662 people outside MTR stations in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsuen Wan three months after last year's Mid-Autumn Festival and again this month on their purchases of mooncakes, lanterns and light sticks.

It found each family ate an average of 7.21 mooncakes last year and threw away 0.64. The group estimated that around 1.6 million mooncakes, enough to fill 18 basketball courts, were thrown away. About 41 percent said they dumped the mooncakes after their use-by date and about one-third said they threw some away as they received too many.

The group found that 32 percent of the respondents expect to receive more mooncakes than they can eat this year.

The survey also found mooncakes are not a popular gift with 57 percent saying they would prefer not to receive them as presents, while about 10 percent said they did not like such gifts.

Despite this, the survey found that on average each respondent will purchase 2.67 boxes of mooncakes this year, mostly for gifts.

The group's senior conservation manager Henry Lui Tak-hang suggested people buy meals for friends and relatives or give fruits instead of mooncakes to reduce waste.

The group also said that while the public is concerned about taste, brand, price and packaging, just 1 percent of respondents said they would look at the packaging when buying mooncakes.

It found that only half the mooncake producers (four out of eight) offered individually packed mooncakes.

It said 35 percent of families played with light sticks last year, with each family dumping 45.1 sticks - or about 40 million being wasted last year.

About one-fourth of respondents said they will buy light sticks this year which means a lot of waste yet again, the group said.

Lui urged the public to stop playing with light sticks as they cannot be recycled and may pollute both the land and water as they contain toxic chemicals such as ethidium bromide and rhodamine B.

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