‘A dollar per bottle would get HK people recycling’

Green groups said on Thursday that giving people money to return plastic bottles will encourage Hongkongers to recycle more, but only if the government increases the amount of rebate planned.

While officials are proposing that people receive 10 cents for each bottle returned, environmentalists say offering HK$1 per bottle would be a lot more effective.

A recent survey commissioned by five groups, including Greenpeace and Green Power, found that 80 percent of respondents supported the rebate idea.

But the results suggested that only three in 10 people would return bottles to, for example, convenience stores, if the rebate was set at 10 cents. Half of those polled said they would do so for between 50 and 80 cents per bottle.

But the Green Earth’s Edmond Lau said there should be an incentive of HK$1 per bottle to really encourage recycling, noting that nearly 80 percent of respondents were willing to recycle for that amount of money.

“[HK$1] is a significant rate that we should consider, instead of the government’s proposal of 10 cents… that’s way, way too low for Hong Kong citizens,” he said.

Greeners Action’s Leo Wong said while there’s no way manufacturers would pay for this, a HK$1 deposit scheme – like that for glass bottles – could be introduced.

Green Sense’s Polly Ma said that being as more than 90 percent of glass soy milk and cola bottles are returned, a similar system for plastic bottles would put a stop to them being sent to landfills.

A HK$1 deposit scheme could boost the recycling rate to 70 percent, because it could change people’s mentality, Lau added.

“For a rebate system, it’s more like a reward, so it’s optional. If you’d like to get your reward, you will recycle. But for a deposit [system], it’s a responsibility for you to do that, because you pay in advance, you will recycle and get your money back.”