With no more bins, HK aims to clean up trails

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Getting rid of trash during one of Hong Kong’s famous hikes will be a bit harder from now on.

Marking a new era for the Special Administrative Region’s hiking trails, all rubbish bins have been removed from hiking trails since Dec. 15. Hikers are now expected to bring their trash back home. According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, a total of 553 rubbish and recycling bins were gradually removed since 2015.

The removal marks the completion of a two-year project to reduce litter in the city’s country parks.

“It is an excellent idea. There were some very silly locations of rubbish bins. For example, there are some on the Lantau Trail on Lantau Peak. Cleaners had to climb all the way to Lantau Peak to clean it out and it’s very windy there, so we saw waste get blown everywhere. That does not make any sense,” said Paul Zimmerman, a councilor in the Southern District who represents Pokfulam.

The earlier removals of trash bins along some trails proved the approach effective at reducing trash. Government statistics in October showed that rubbish collected along 11 trails where the number of bins was cut in half had fallen between 33 and 89 percent.

“By removing bins, we have observed a reduction in litter volume and country parks have generally become cleaner and tidier,” department assistant director Chan Kin-fung said during a media briefing earlier. “That’s why we’ve made the decision to remove all bins on designated trails before the end of the year.”

Although the policy was implanted slowly and over a period of time, some concerns were raised about the inconvenience of totally eliminating the bins.

“I had to go the nearby BBQ venue to throw away some fruit stones, peels and snack wraps. It took me 20 minutes to find a bin,” said one mother of two. “There are usually plenty of things in our bags during hiking and it would be quite troublesome to put the trash and clean things, like camera and clothes, all together in one bag.”

And she is not the only one who has such complaints. Environmental group Green Power found that more than half of the people they surveyed still like to throw away the rubbish in bins as long as they are available.

According to the environmental group, the average hiker produced about one to two items of trash and the top three categories were food packaging, tissue paper and plastic bags.

“It is understandable that people would not feel comfortable sitting in the MTR with some fruit peels or sweaty gear inside (a bag). So it is important that the government to set up some instruction boards, saying that this is the last location where you can drop your rubbish so that the hikers can get prepared,” said Zimmerman. “Gradually, people will foster a concept of bringing back their trash and producing less trash.”

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