HKBU has nurtured over 148,000 graduates since its inception in 1956 and numerous alumni have in the past made notable achievements in diverse areas and professions. In this connection, we are pleased to introduce alumni from different professions and invite them to share their knowledge discovery with us.
Sharing by Alumna Celia Fung on Waste Reduction
Alumna Celia Fung Sze-lai (Applied Biology) is an enthusiast in environmental protection. She has worked in Hong Kong Organic Resources Centre, Friends of the Earth (HK) and World Green Organisation, making continuous contribution to environmental protection. She is currently Principal Consultant of the Recycling Fund at Hong Kong Productivity Council.
1. Please briefly describe the recent waste problem in Hong Kong.
The recent waste problem in Hong Kong has been intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to government figures, the municipal solid waste disposed of landfill increased from 11,057 tonnes per day in 2019 to 15,5331 tonnes per day in 2021, which was a significant increase of about 40.5%. Because of the social distancing measures enforced during the pandemic, people usually buy takeaway food, leading to a higher consumption of single-use food wares which imposes serious waste problem in Hong Kong. Moreover, during the pandemic, people consume different kinds of anti-epidemic items like surgical masks, rapid antigen test (RAT) kits and disinfecting wipes, all of which cannot be recycled. The explosive growth of medical waste and food wares during the pandemic has led to the worsening of environmental problems. The tug of war between hygiene and the environment is getting more fierce during the pandemic.
2. Please give a few tips on how we can contribute to waste reduction in daily lives.
First, we should reduce the use of unnecessary waste. If we order takeaway, we should bring our own utensils and avoid using single-use food wares. Some people may feel embarrassed of bringing their own utensils. Nevertheless, it is important for us to take the first step and mobilise others around us.
Besides, kitchen waste is another major source of waste in Hong Kong as this problem is common in developed cities. People may not plan to cook or place orders for an optimum amount of food that they just need. Therefore, it is common to observe in some banquets or formal dinners that food is left behind and becomes food waste. The concept of food wise should be valued in society.
Furthermore, we should develop the habit of recycling in daily lives. In recent years, the Environmental Protection Department has been actively building a new community recycling network, “GREEN@COMMUNITY” (綠在區區), which includes recycling stations, recycling stores and recycling spots, and promoting different initiatives across the territory with a view to gaining more support from the public to go green and instill a green living culture in the community. The programme has successfully aroused the interest of citizens to use the recycling facilities. It is critical for us to cultivate the habit of recycling and reducing waste in daily lives.
3. As Consultant of the Recycling Fund, can you share with us the vision of the Fund? How would the Fund support the development of the recycling industry?
The Chief Executive announced in his 2014 Policy Address that $1 billion2 has been earmarked for setting up a Recycling Fund and it was launched in 2015. The objective of the Recycling Fund is to promote the recovery and recycling of waste by facilitating the upgrading of the operational capabilities and efficiency of the recycling industry for sustainable development. The Government has engaged the Hong Kong Productivity Council to be the Implementation Partner as well as the Secretariat for the Recycling Fund to assist in the development, promotion, management, operation and monitoring of the recycling fund activities.
One of the major obstacles of the recycling industry is to collect a significant amount of recyclables with high quality, i.e. clean and properly sorted. The supply of clean goods is crucial for the recycling industry. For example, people may mistakenly put the non-plastic items together with the plastic items in the plastic recyclables collection bins which may cost extra time and human resources of the recycling industry to differentiate and re-categorise, and the inadvertent mistakes may even lead to downgrading of final product which affects the income of recyclers. Under this circumstance, the Recycling Fund aims at providing resources for enhancing the operational efficiency of the recycling industry.
Furthermore, the Recycling Fund strives to support sustainable development of the recycling industry in Hong Kong. Without funding, the industry might have less incentive to improve the operation and technology. Therefore, one of the foci of the Fund is to facilitate the technological advancement of the industry.
The Fund also aims at rejuvenating the image of the recycling industry which has been associated with “old” and limited career prospects. As green economy and employment would be one of the major trends, the Fund would also subsidise the industry to recruit a wide range of positions, from project management to technician, so as to encourage more people to join.