Mamas, let’s talk rubbish. Nope, not the sort of rubbish we talk after a few glasses of wine on a rare night out, but the yucky stuff that we put in our bins each day.
We’ve all heard the stories about the bin lorries turning up and stuffing all our carefully separated recycling into one big container, making our good intentions pointless. Whether or not that’s an urban myth, Hong Kong currently only recycles 14% of our domestic waste. For those who have moved to HK from other large international cities, it can be shocking to see the lack of government involvement in waste reduction and recycling promotion.
As for the remaining 86% of our garbage, a large proportion is contained within 3 enormous landfill sites in the New Territories, all of which are on target to be completely full within the next 6 years. It’s inevitable that the need to rid us of our ever-increasing refuse mountain will result in more of the SAR’s countryside areas being turned into massive rubbish dumps. And that means more landfills appearing on our doorsteps. Fragrant Harbour, indeed. And what we don’t keep here, we send north of the border to China to be disposed of in their backyards. That’s right; we’re simultaneously complaining about Guangzhou factories creating terrible air pollution here in Hong Kong, whilst shipping our unwanted trash over to them. Hmmm, anyone else here feel like a bit of a hypocrite?
Thankfully, help is at hand with a truly innovative new service that aims at once to cut our waste, promote recycling as a way of life here and help some of the most marginalised groups of people in Hong Kong find gainful employment.
HK Recycles have a very simple proposition for us: We sign up via their very user-friendly website; they collect our recyclables once a week from outside the door. And that’s it. They’ll even send you an email reminder the day before they’re due to collect, so you don’t forget. Sound too good to be true? Get this: they only charge $25 a week for the service. And they’re not just working on our attitudes to rubbish.
Created primarily as a social enterprise, HK Recycles has partnered with three charities to support underprivileged groups in Hong Kong. The company offer jobs as recycling collectors, as well as supporting the charities in the form of financial donations. They are aiming to employ 30-50 people in the next year alone, and by paying above-average wages and offering training, are hoping to create long-term career opportunities for marginalised people in the community. Currently only available between Kennedy Town and Causeway Bay on HK Island, they hope to roll out more locations very soon, so if you’re interested then get in touch with them.
We think it’s about time someone tackled Hong Kong’s ticking waste time-bomb head-on, and the social benefits that the job programme brings are commendable. Let’s face it, with the weekly cost being less than the price of our next takeout coffee, there’s no reason in the world not to give this a try. We’ll be sure to recycle the cup afterwards…
Learn more about HK Recycles and sign up on their website here.