Hong Kong’s plastic recycling industry has long been struggling, but the drop in international oil prices has made the business even worse.
Scrap plastic collectors used to collect an average of 8 to 10 tons every month, but the situation changed six months ago, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.
The price of recycled plastic has halved in the past year, Leung Hin-fai, a scrap plastic collector, said.
Leung said collectors used to buy scrap plastic from the public at HK$1 per kilogram, and resell them to recycled plastic manufacturers.
But now, the resale price of scrap plastic has slumped to around HK$300 per ton, making the collectors’ business unprofitable.
The price couldn’t even cover their transportation cost.
The export price of recycled plastic has dropped to HK$3,000 per ton, from HK$6,000 last year.
Many manufacturers would rather buy new raw material than scrap plastic because of cost considerations, according to Lau Yiu-shing, president of the Hong Kong Recycled Materials and Re-production Business General Association.
He urged the government to allow the use of the new HK$1 billion Recycle Fund as subsidy for street collectors who will find and sort scrap plastic materials, rather than use it to buy new machines.
Environmental protection organization Friends of the Earth found that hardly anyone is collecting scrap plastic from recycle bins inside MTR stations.
These plastic materials end up in dumps, thus increasing the burden of landfills in Hong Kong.
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