Hong Kong throws away 24,500* tonnes of drink cartons each year. There are two types of drink carton: one comprises paper, plastic and aluminium; the other comprises paper and plastic only. All the materials are recyclable and drink cartons are recycled in many places. For example, Japan, Taiwan and mainland China have recycling rates of 45%, 30% and 10%, respectively. Yet, none are recycled in Hong Kong; all are dumped in landfills. This is a waste of useful resources, and accelerates exhaustion of landfill space, intensifying the waste problem.
Hong Kong has yet to implement any drink carton recycling campaigns due to lack of technology, facilities and economic incentive. Therefore, Green Power has launched a four-pronged trial campaign in 2016, channeling recyclers with schools, hotels, theme park and the community in different phases of the project. We aim at evoking greater public attention to the recyclability of cartons, proving that carton recycling policy is feasible.
Green Power urges the government to implement a comprehensive Producer Responsibility Scheme covering all beverage containers and food packaging. Meanwhile, the groundbreaking opening of a local carton recycler, which is capable to process a maximum of 10 tonnes cartons each daily, has opened the door for effective treatment of carton waste in 2019. Producers should take up the recycling responsibility right away despite the absence of legislation. Otherwise, the costs of waste handling will be consequently passed on to citizens.
In future, if the Municipal Solid Waste Charging Scheme comes into effect, without a proper recycling channel means transferring the recycling cost to the public. The social cost should be paid by producers, who took it as an advantage for profit.
*According to “Monitoring of Solid Waste in Hong Kong 2018”