All About Green

From Trash to Treasure: Swedish Recycling Mall a Shining Example of Community Resource Re-Circulation

Jun 2019
Author: Green Power
Second-hand exchange corner in Yuen Long Community Green Station
Second-hand exchange corner in Yuen Long Community Green Station

What is the best “resource re-circulation” way to deal with unwanted goods? To cut the mustard, one could resell the old stuff in second-hand exchange platforms and markets, or simply donate to charities. Unfortunately, we usually discard our unwanted belongings in garbage bins with our hands tied – not everyone welcomes an old item that might be of little use.

Breathing new life into old products, a second-hand goods mall in Sweden pioneers integration of waste recycling, sorting and restoration in a single location. Enclosed by bright crimson walls, the arcade houses a recyclables treatment centre, which welcomes most of the second-hand items from the neighbourhood, regardless of their condition. The collected goods are refined and resent to shop owners based on their business plans. If you bring an intact second-hand bowl, it will be polished again and stocked in a homeware store; while a cracked one could be transformed into a nifty vase.

The panoply of shops and professional artisans are ready to cater to items in all condition and types from the community, opening a new door to enthusiasts looking for cost-effective recycling. Visitors would probably be wowed by the craftsmanship that turns all the worn-outs into brand-news. In centralising resources input, the Swedish epitome of upcycling is an excellent role model that Hong Kong bureaucrats should look into.

Lots of scrapped furniture left on the street
Scarpped furniture

The “Community Green Stations (CGS)” network, a cross-district campaign established by the government in recent years, lays great stress on the “use less, waste less” lifestyle. Setting up public collection points in the 18 districts, a wide range of reusables, such as electronic appliances, glass bottles, rechargeable batteries and waste plastic, could be recycled at designated points. Also, the programme periodically runs second-hand goods markets, which provide a public platform for second-hand exchanges. Despite the extensiveness of the scheme, materials that are left out inevitably end up in landfills.

Hong Kong has never been short of artistry talents, but platforms gathering the artisans are severely scarce. The Sweden recycling mall has set a useful example that excels in upcycling by utilising local labour resources. As a green policy, the CGS network is off to a good start in the city, but nonetheless needs to move swiftly and nimbly in order to keep up with the world.