20 July 2019
Discarded red envelopes (inset) and citrus trees following the Lunar New Year festivities add to Hong Kong's waste problem. Photos: HKEJ
Discarded red envelopes (inset) and citrus trees following the Lunar New Year festivities add to Hong Kong's waste problem. Photos: HKEJ

Green groups step up efforts to recycle waste after CNY holidays

Environmental groups stepped up recycling campaigns during the Lunar New Year festival, collecting items thrown away by people during the holiday period and helping reduce waste in the city.

The groups say they aim to set an example for citizens and cultivate the habit of recycling waste so as to ease pressure at landfills, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

People will need to change their habits also because the government plans to launch a new system under which municipal solid waste (MSW) will be charged on the basis of quantity, activists noted.

During the Chinese New Year, people buy a lot of stuff that is symbolic of an auspicious beginning of the year, but the items tend to get discarded soon after the holidays, leading to a surge in garbage.

The Environmental Association said that it has so far recycled about 700 citrus trees, one of the popular items many families buy and put at home during the Lunar New Year holidays to seek good luck in the coming year before they throw them away.

However, the recycled volume is still very low, as it is estimated that about 40,000 citrus trees were sold in all in Hong Kong for the holidays. Most of the trees could still end up as waste.

Taken as a whole, the trees would weigh as much as 1,400 metric tons, equivalent to the weight of 60 double-decker buses combined, the report noted.

Yau Wing-kwong, director general of the Environmental Association, said buyers of citrus trees can take care of the plants so that they can bear fruits that can be used to pray for good luck again next year.

Some of the recycled trees will be sent to Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve in Tai Po and grown there because they can attract some types of butterflies to spawn, he added.

Separately, Greeners Action launched a campaign on Sunday with 500 depots set up at various locations citywide to recycle red envelopes until Feb. 22.

The green group was continuing an activity that it had been doing for the past seven years.

Director general Ho Hon-wai said the discarded red envelopes will be stored and given out free of charge for people to use next year.

More than eight million such envelopes were collected last year but the number was still small, given that about 320 million envelopes are believed to be used by Hongkongers annually.

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said on Sunday that a proposal regarding the planned MSW management system will be sent to the Legislative Council in the first half of the year.

A proposed monthly charge of HK$30-60 per family is expected to help reduce waste significantly.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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