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Recycling Check Do people recycle in Hong Kong

Recycling Check: Do people recycle in Hong Kong?

I’m someone who usually minds their own business, but I’ve had moments wondering if my fellow Hong Kongers are truly embracing the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra. 

I mean, I can vouch for myself (not to put myself above others), but is the city as a whole walking the eco-talk? 

My curiosity led me to do a little investigation on the matter… and after a fair bit of poking around and diving into research, here’s what I uncovered.

Do people recycle in Hong Kong? 

Do people recycle in Hong Kong

Recycling in Hong Kong has been a bit challenging historically due to various factors such as limited space, a lack of infrastructure, and logistical issues.

However, the government and various organizations have been making efforts to promote recycling and waste reduction in recent years. 

But despite these efforts, recycling rates in Hong Kong have historically been lower compared to some other developed countries or cities.

Hong Kong’s Waste Problem

Hong Kong’s Waste Problem

Recycling in Hong Kong isn’t going as well as it could. Right now, our recycling rate is only 30%, the lowest it’s been in the last 20 years. 

Shockingly, the city throws away a massive 11,428 metric tons of solid waste into their landfills every single day, adding up to a staggering 4.17 million metric tons annually!

On average, each person in Hong Kong tosses out about 1.53 kilograms of garbage daily. That’s almost double compared to what folks in Tokyo throw away. 

What’s more surprising is that Hong Kong manages all this waste with only three landfills.

Compared to other Asian cities, Hong Kong’s recycling numbers fall short when matched with Singapore, where they’ve got a 61% recycling rate.

Specifically, Hong Kong isn’t doing as well in recycling paper, glass, and metal. However, we’re doing a bit better than Singapore in plastic recycling, boasting a 14% rate compared to Singapore’s 7%.

Hong Kong’s Recycling Challenges

Hong Kong's Recycling Challenges

So the question is, why is there a lack of recycling in Hong Kong? The major issue stems from the lack of recycling options in Hong Kong. 

Earlier, about 95% of the recyclable plastic waste was sent to mainland China. However, since China stopped accepting this waste, less than 1% of it gets recycled in Hong Kong. 

The rest simply ends up in landfills alongside non-recyclable plastics.

Sadly, the reality is that recycling plastic isn’t a profitable business for the Hong Kong government. 

The costs involved in collecting, sorting, storing, and transporting recycled plastics outweigh the benefits. It’s cheaper for them to buy new materials than to recycle.

Adding to the problem, recycling facilities in Hong Kong are pretty basic. Plastic waste is sorted by hand, making it difficult to process a wider range of recyclable materials. 

These limitations affect what can actually be recycled, contributing to the overall recycling challenge in the city.

What to recycle in Hong Kong?

What to recycle in Hong Kong

According to Hong Kong Waste Reduction, you can recycle the following items in street bins across Hong Kong:

  • Paper – newspapers, books, magazines; office paper; corrugated cardboard (carton boxes)
  • Plastic – beverage bottles and personal care containers
  • Metal – iron/aluminum cans, milk powder cans, cookware, food containers
  • Glass – bottles and jars (excluding light bulbs, cookware, windows, etc.)

If you’re not keen on recycling, locations such as residential buildings, offices, malls, and others provide their own recycling bins. These bins are available for depositing recyclable items. 

Typically, these facilities have separate bins managed by contracted waste management companies. To find out the specific materials they accept for recycling, it’s advisable to reach out to your building management for details.

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