Letter to the Editor of South China Morning Post – Response to a reader’s letter and an editorial article on waste reduction

I refer to the letter by Bipana Gurung ("More plastic recycling factories would help tackle mounting waste", on 26 November), and the editorial ("Welcome step to cut use of plastic bottles", on 28 November).

The government is determined to tackle the waste problem in Hong Kong and has been taking concurrent actions on multiple fronts.

To avoid waste at the source, it is necessary to nurture a “Use Less, Waste Less” culture in this city. With the government taking the lead, bureaus and departments have been advised not to use bottled water when organising or attending events and meetings. To take things a step further, we have decided to stop the sale of plastic bottled water (one litre or less) in all automatic vending machines under contracts to be tendered after February 20 on government premises.

Following the introduction of producer responsibility schemes, or PRS, on e-waste and glass beverage bottles, we have kicked-started a feasibility study on introducing another PRS on plastic beverage and personal care products containers to promote their recycling.

On top of these, we would also be introducing the quantity-based municipal solid waste charging to provide a key drive for waste reduction and recycling.

To help the public to practise separation of waste for recycling, we have set up a Community Recycling Network, or CRN, covering various districts across the territory.

We will further introduce a service next year to centrally collect the waste plastic bottles received by the CRN and from the sources direct on a need basis. In parallel, we are developing a community green station in each of the 18 districts, to provide environmental education to the public and help collect low-value recyclables from the community.

To enhance the capability of local recycling industry, we have been offering various types of assistance to local recyclers, for example through the HK$1 billion recycling fund and provision of land at affordable prices to recyclers in the EcoPark. We will also continue to take the lead in green procurement to drum up the demand for green products.

Looking ahead, the government will explore incubating local manufacturing industries to help absorb the local recyclables generated, so as to reduce our reliance on exporting them.

Wong Hon-meng
Assistant Director of Environmental Protection