Trash bins removed from some hiking trails in campaign on waste

September 21, 2015 12:23
An overflowing garbage bin at Tai Mo Shan Country Park. Authorities have launched a campaign to encourage visitors to take their waste with them when they leave such nature parks. Photo: Facebook

Hong Kong authorities have removed rubbish bins from some hiking trails in country parks in a bid to encourage citizens to carry their waste out of the parks.

In the initiative spearheaded by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), about 40 waste bins were removed from five routes popular with hikers, Apple Daily reported.

Bins were removed from the Tai Po Kau Nature Trail, Tai Lam Nature Trail, Ma On Shan Country Trail, Dragon’s Back, and section three of the Phoenix Trail.

The AFCD was quoted as saying that it will review the measure in one year’s time. The government agency is not worried that people will litter country parks in the absence of waste bins.

In 2010, the department had 2,870 waste bins across Hong Kong’s country parks, but that figure had dropped to 2,385 last year.

Angela Chan Ching-han, an official with the AFCD’s Country Parks Ranger Services, said some of the nature trails made life difficult for rubbish cleaners, who could spend up to four hours just to walk up to the bins.

After collecting the trash, which can weigh dozens of kilograms, the workers have to walk downhill with the heavy load.

Cleaning work is also not easy as boars and monkeys sometimes spread the rubbish as they look for food in the rubbish bins.

Chan said a small-scale trial conducted at Dragon’s Back on Hong Kong island earlier has proved to be highly successful. The nature trail turned out to be cleaner with hikers taking care of their waste responsibly, she said.

A hiker surnamed Lee said he supports the idea of eliminating the waste bins on some routes. He pointed out that there are no waste bins in country parks in Japan.

One should leave behind only sweat when they visit country parks and nothing else, Lee said.

Chow Yuet-cheung of "Save Our Country Parks”, an alliance of 18 green groups, said she hopes that people will gradually accept that there won't be any waste bins in country parks.

AFCD's Chan urged hikers to use reusable bottles instead of plastic ones and put food in storage boxes in order to avoid a large amount of food packaging materials.

The AFCD has erected banners at the five sites, where people will explain the new measure to visitors. A team of 600 volunteers will inspect the nature trails during weekends to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign.

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