“Wow! I can’t believe it! This place takes 8 types of recyclables including styrofoams and fruit packaging?” I went to Green@Sai Ying Pun on First Street with a huge dose of suspicion even though it was recommended by my long-term eco-warrior friend. But this is for real!
Like many, I often wonder whether the materials dropped into the dirty 3 box recycle bins ever really get recycled. But with a network of 22 recycling stores all over Hong Kong, Green@Community, the latest waste reduction initiative by the Government, looks convincing and has a lot of resources behind it.
It is all in one store! Each store has clearly signed bins for paper, metals, plastics (including fruit packaging and food containers), glass bottles, regulated electrical equipment, small electrical appliances, fluorescent lamps and tubes and rechargeable batteries. Decor is bright and clean. Staff are friendly and knowledgable, well able to separate different recyclables. There is drinking water, hand basins and the spacious sitting area even makes me want to hang out there for a while! Next to some stores, workers can be seen sorting the recyclables. I talked to one of the neighbours in Tin Wan. Anthony was literally converted from a non-recycler to an advocate overnight.
Q: How did you get to know this initiative? What do you think of it?
A: I found it when walking past their smart and inviting new shopfront in my neighbourhood. I couldn’t quite believe it: eco, high-tech, friendly staff, well designed, logically laid out, multiple bins for many categories of recycled items. Not only that, there was a steady flow of people both old and young disposing of all sorts of household and other items. They quite enjoyed finding the right bin to put them in and helpful staff gave guidance.
This is completely transformative compared to the tired 3 category metal bins we see on the pavements, which are usually overflowing with the wrong rubbish placed in each category.
Q: You said that this recycling store changed your behavior. How?
A: At home, I created my own multiple shelving (by recycling three wooden wine boxes) which follow those categories. I now carefully sort my kitchen and domestic rubbish, as well as food cans and other containers I buy. Each week, I take all of this to the Green@Tin Wan Store - It’s a bit shocking how much just one person creates. So I now avoid over- packaged products eg. I never buy eggs in plastic boxes, but only those in easily recyclable cardboard boxes.
Q: Wow! That’s impressive! Have you any suggestions to other people or the Government?
A: I urge people, especially parents, to try adjusting your home trash outflow and to bring at least some of it to this new, greener place for its disposal. Kids, in particular, can enjoy the loyalty scheme – they give you points (redeemable for groceries) calculated on the weight of recyclables you bring. I think they are also planning workshops, discussion groups and other activities. It would be great to see more of these centres opening up particularly near residential areas. And more promotion and a greater social media profile would be really beneficial. I searched for other store locations. They were not so easy to find.
I invite you to go and experience these new stores. You may even find yourself converted like Anthony has been. And yes, bring our next generation. The future is theirs!
To know more:
About Green@Community: https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/en/community/crn_intro.htm
Find a store near you: https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/en/community/crn_outlets.htm#recyc_stores