More than 1,000 tonnes of plastic bottles were collected and recycled as part of a reward initiative launched in Hong Kong last year, double its target.
A group called Drink Without Waste, formed by large beverage companies such as 7-Eleven and ParknShop, launched the Neighborhood Bottle Reward Scheme in November 2020.
Under this program, anyone who recycles a plastic bottle – via collection points across Hong Kong – receives 5 cents in return. The people who manage the collection points also receive 3.5 cents for each bottle received.
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Drink Without Waste received HK $ 5.6 million from the government to run the program, which ended last month.
In total, the group received and recycled 40 million bottles weighing 1,030 tonnes, ie double its target.
Cindy Li Wing-ling, project manager for Drink Without Waste, said the main reasons for its success were its well-established collection network and the empowerment of frontline collectors.
Discarded plastic water bottles are washed up on a beach in Lung Ha Wan, New Territories. Photo: EPA-EFE
The group used the existing recycling facilities inside the housing estates and sent trucks and pop-up stalls to areas without them, to build a highly efficient recovery network.
He also encouraged citizens like the elderly, housekeepers and domestic workers to be frontline collectors.
“These people have the time and knowledge to sort it out,” Li said.
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Li predicts that the city’s high plastic bottle recovery rate will not be sustainable without the program, saying subsidies and public space are crucial for recycling.
“Just a little help would be helpful,” Li said. “Our program only offered a discount of 5 cents per unit, which meant people would only receive HK $ 2 for 1 kg of plastic bottles. . “
The results prove that small material recovery facilities (SMRFs), such as pop-ups, booths and trucks, are a valuable part of the recycling system, Li said, saying the government should devote more resources. at SMRF.
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Since many neighborhoods lack permanent recycling facilities, trucks and pop-up shops would go to these areas to collect the bottles, but this often caused more problems.
“One problem we encountered during the project was the lack of space, which prevented mobile recyclers from entering more areas,” she said, adding that many of them were fined. for illegal occupation of public places.
“The recycling industry needs more space in our community,” Li said. “We hope the government can allow more flexible use of public space to support SMRF.”