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A huge obstacle to Hong Kong recycling industry


Hong Kong recycling operations can no longer export local scrap paper to the mainland due to a national ban on importing foreign solid waste.

Issued in July, the policy notice stated that China will no longer import 24 types of waste including unsorted scrap paper and waste plastic by the end of this year.

Despite being a special administration region, Hong Kong cannot export any waste paper to the mainland for recycling.

A local recycling shop operator, Ng Siu-po, said the price of paper has already dropped by half due to the release of the policy.

Ng said the price level of waste paper is now $500 per metric ton, which was a thousand per metric ton, and expected the price to drop further after it is put into practice.

The profit his business gained has dropped a third. He is pessimistic towards the recycling industry in Hong Kong.

"Selling waste paper is the main source of income of my business. If the mainland stops importing waste paper, there is no other places for us to sell the waste paper and I may need to close down my recycling shop," Ng said.

Wendell Chan, the project officer of Friends of the Earth, added that China is the biggest importer of Hong Kong's recyclable waste, which constitutes about 98%.

Chan predicted the recyclable will be sent to the landfills instead without the normal exit channels.         

Ms Au, who collects waste paper for a living, said that her income has fallen by half due to lowered price of scrap paper.

She added that her monthly income was about $3000 to $4000 in the past but now her income is only about $2000.

"I hope that the Hong Kong Recycle Materials & Re-Production Business General Association Limited can bargain with the mainland government for us so that the whole industry will not be adversely affected," said Ng.

At present, 35% of the annual 5.7 million tonnes of waste from household, commercial and industrial sources is recycled, with which 44% is paper, according to the 2015 recycling figures released by the Environmental Protection Department.

Chan said the local recycling industry is still primitive as most of the recyclables are exported elsewhere.

"We are creating very little economic value from selling what is mostly raw materials," he said, "the government should help develop the local recycling industry."

Hong Kong Recycle Materials & Re-Production Business General Association Limited is going to stop receiving unsorted scrap paper this Friday if it cannot receive favourable reply from the mainland.


Reported by Elisa Luk, Kobie Li, Erica Chin and Wing Li

Edited by Celia Lai, Richelia Yeung and Tiffany Lui

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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