The minute we read this piece by Jason Sigmon about the myths that surround recycling in our hometown, we knew we had to share it with our readers! Jason is the founder of Ecoport, an innovative startup dedicated to connected people and businesses who want to recycle with recycling solutions throughout Hong Kong. In the company’s own words, “EcoPort provides recycling logistics for the 21st century: using a cloud-powered routing service we are bringing innovation to the recycling industry and putting our city’s waste to work. We collect recyclable materials from businesses and transport them directly to upcyclers who can make something else out of it.”
Myth 1: Hong Kong Has No Recyclers.
I often hear, “Hong Kong has no place to recycle waste ”; this is completely untrue. Over the past few years, the government has spent millions to encourage the establishment of recycling facilities. The biggest of these initiatives is EcoPark near Tuen Mun. What the recycling organizations struggle with, is raising awareness of their services. They simply don’t know who they should be talking to, and can’t afford to spend an entire day traveling around Hong Kong. If you want to recycle, reach out to your building or facility manager and let them know; many building managers simply assume their tenants are not interested.
Myth 2: All Food Waste Ends Up In a Landfill
While it may not always seems so, Hong Kong is beginning to make significant progress on reducing its food waste, which causes most of the smells we associate with the trash heaps around the city. The Food Wise campaign, despite it’s questionable mascot, has pioneered educating the community on how they can reduce their food waste. If waste is produced, organizations such as HKOWRC are working on finding new uses for it, for example by growing mushrooms or turning it into fish feed.
We have also seen the emergence of food redistribution organizations that take perfectly good food a restaurant would throw out and redistribute it to the needy. Helping Feeding Hong Kong, Foodlink Foundation or Food Angel is a great way to give back and reduce food waste in Hong Kong.
Myth 3: Recycling Is Run By the Triads
As with anything involving the Triads, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. While they certainly control some parts of the process, particularly electronics recycling, it should not prohibit you from recycling your old electronics. St. James Settlement’s WEEE program refurbishes reusable electronics and then donates them to needy families. For electronics beyond repair, they disassemble the device and recycle its components.
Myth 4: “Blank” Can Not Be Recycled
I am frequently surprised by how little people think can be recycled. Just because you only see the elderly pushing carts of cardboard or digging for cans, does not mean that is all that Hong Kong can recycle. The Environmental Protection Department runs a recycling centre in Kowloon Bay, and local organizations are finding ways to upcycle products into something else. If you are looking to learn more about upcycling, try and attend an event by Weekend Upcycling Workshop.
Myth 5: I Cannot Make a Difference
You can! Hong Kong’s recycling problems will not be fixed overnight. Instead, it will involve a combination of education, legislation, and community action. Whether it is pushing for more recycling in your child’s school or organizing a local beach cleanup, find a way you can be part of the solution. If you need ideas, read and follow Green Queen, Ecozine, or simply stop by for a meal at Mana! Fast Slow Food, Hong Kong’s first zero waste F&B outlet. Have an idea? Feel free to reach out, and together lets transform Hong Kong into Asia’s cleanest city.
For a list of recycling resources, check out the Green Queen Guide’s Recycling Services section.
An earlier version of this article was published on Medium.
Image courtesy of HK Cleanup.