• Nathalie

Recycling in Hong Kong

January 2021.

This post is an overview of the recycling opportunities in the city of Hong Kong.

Separate posts have been made on Instagram for each material and will be published on this website, but I had to start somewhere. Check the links in the footer for more resources.

Before moving to Hong Kong I had spent 10 years in Paris and I was used to a door to door collection of plastics, glasses, cans and papers. Nothing to clean, not much to sort, a very different approach that forced me to research how to recycle here what I couldn't avoid, #reuse and repair.

Don't look too far!

The government website wastereduction.gov.hk is a very good source of information translated in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. You'll find what are the 8 main types of recyclable the city collects and tips on how and where to drop you reusables and other types of recyclables.

The Hong Kong Collector / Recycler Directory contains non-exhaustive lists of organizations which carry out activities on materials recovery and recycling. Click here for the list of collection points.

Recycling efficiently in Hong Kong

I often hear: "I don't believe in recycling in HK" or "I've stopped recycling" and maybe that's also the way you feel. We've all heard stories of sorting bins mixed together and ending up in landfills (and I heard that about a lot of other cities too...)

But WE CAN recycle efficiently SOME materials in Hong Kong: just don't walk to any community recycling bin in the street and blindly throw your refused items in it.

Instead: read the 3 rules I've learned to recycle efficiently.

Moving to Hong Kong was an eye opener. Recycling was not a given, I had to do my homework: reduce my consumption of what could be avoided, replace what could be found in other forms and find ways to recycle what I couldn't reuse.

Rule 1: follow guidelines

Each country/each city recycle certain types of materials depending on the facilities/technology they have, they also have different recycling guidelines.

Here's the link for the city of Hong Kong, do also read the label on the refuse bin.

Rule 2: do your part right

With the amount of trash arriving at sorting facilities, we should all do our job at each end of this recycling chain. I highlighted here common mistakes that should be avoided:

❌If the bin sais "plastic bottle" it means bottles, not any other plastics, just bottles.

And I used to make that mistake too. It would take extra time sorting the content at the facility and could make the entire lot go to landfill.

❌Dirty items won't be recycled.

Dirty trash can contaminate the rest of the lot, making the entire lot go to landfill.

❌Plastic bags go in a separate bin.

Don't mix them with your hard plastics, they can get stuck in the machines and paralyse the sorting facility.

❌Dispose of your items loose: do not close your recyclables in a plastic bag.

Workers are not allowed to open those bags for their own safety => landfills.

❌Empty bottles and rince them.

Caps are recycled separately.

Workers are not allowed to open those bags for their own safety => landfills.

❌Replace your disposable batteries with rechargeable batteries.

Hong Kong can't recycle disposable batteries (yet), do not throw them with the rechargeable ones. Though I might have a lead on that one, TBC.

Rule 3: whishcycling is actually really bad

#wishcycling means disposing of something in the refuse bin “hoping” it’ll get recycled, but a misplaced object can create more harm than good to the recycling facilities and it’s one of the biggest issues waste management faces today.

If you follow Rule 1 and Rule 2 wishcycling should be avoided ;-)

Your Instagram memo.

Please share with your community.

My final advice wether you are Hong Kong native or English speaker: ask, talk, look around. The city of Hong Kong offers many solutions to avoid waste. From the Environmental Protection Department, to charitable organisations, private enterprises, social enterprises, pop up collectors and even blogs, Instagram groups sharing tips and good adresses!

After all that being said, recycling is not THE solution, it's a small part of the solution and if you are reading this post it means like me, you are trying to change the way you consume to reduce your trash altogether. Drop me a line or PM me on Instagram to ask me your questions and share good practices!


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