New recycling scheme for beverage packaging proposed by environmental group

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A comprehensive plan for recycling drinks would help tackle the waste disposal problem in Hong Kong.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

Drink Without Waste, an initiative led by Single-Use Beverage Packaging Working Group, released their second position statement on producer responsibility scheme for beverage packaging on Thursday.

The statement proposed a new recycling scheme for beverage packaging called “Packaging Exchange”, with a focus on placing responsibilities on various stakeholders, ranging from government, manufacturers, retailers to consumers.

Edwin Lau, Executive Director of The Green Earth, an environmental NGO, addressed the issue of the lack of recycling in Hong Kong.

“There’s quite a sharp drop in the recycling rate for PET bottles in the past few years. The latest recycling rate, which is in 2018, is 0.2 percent. This is very alarming,” Mr Lau pointed out at a webinar presentation.

Under the new scheme, the scope of recycling would be expanded. Currently, only plastic drink bottles are eligible for recycling. The “Packaging Exchange” scheme would try to include all formats of beverage packaging to be available for recycling.

The scheme would also allow other players, such as non-profit organisations and independent advisory councils, to participate. With the current system, the government oversees the regulation, management and governance. The new scheme would allow the government to only perform the regulating function.

“We want to have an external board overseeing the operation of ‘Packaging Exchange’ so that all the stakeholders and all of the interests can be reflected accordingly,” stated Helga Vanthournout, Founder and Director of Wealth of Flows, an environmental consulting firm.

Paul Zimmerman, Chairman of Drink Without Waste, suggested the government should also have an important role despite allowing more non-government stakeholders in the operation.

“Government has a role to play, and legislation is the number 1 role. We need a level playing field,” remarked Mr Zimmerman.

More details on the program can be viewed on Drink Without Waste’s website.

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