What happens to all that plastic that we try so hard to recycle

If you’re anything like us, you always make sure to carefully separate your trash and dispose of it in the correct recycling bin. You feel like you’ve done your part, but what really happens to it after it’s supposedly sent to be magically repurposed into something else? 

There were rumours that waste destined for recycling is simply sent to landfills because it’s less trouble.

This was confirmed when an investigation last year discovered that nearly two-thirds of housing estates in Hong Kong surveyed were sending plastic bottles collected in recycling bins, to landfill! 

In its 2013 waste reduction plan, the Hong Kong government set a target that, by 2022, each person would throw away no more than 0.8kg of waste per day, but this target is unlikely to be reached because… 

“In 2018, Hong Kongers sent an average of 1.53kgs per person of solid waste to landfills every day; just 30% of this was recycled.”

How has this happened? 

Some say that it’s because of the low value of plastics in Hong Kong. 1kg of collected, separated and processed plastic waste may give recyclers just HKD$0.30- $0.50, lower than a few years ago. Also, most plastics are not recyclable in Hong Kong, of the seven types of plastic materials, only three are able to be recycled by local plants through the government scheme. 

How can we fix this?

Hong Kong plans to build adequate waste-to-energy facilities so that it no longer needs to rely on landfills by 2035. Aside from this sizeable goal, the government needs to provide monetary subsidies to recyclers to encourage proper collection and recycling. 

Basically, we (as in you and me) need to start getting smart about how we manage our own waste and look beyond our rubbish bins. We know it’s hard to figure it all out, but thankfully Hong Kong is working hard to develop an effective recycling system that is easy to use.

Not only do we have the likes of independently operated Love Recycling Plus and other smaller scale recycling entities, the Environmental Protection Department are finally stepping up. The GREEN @ COMMUNITY initiative launched in late 2020, a community recycling network that is available on a broad scale across the city with 133 recycling points in total for you to access.

Click here to find your local recycling point.

What can we recycle?

  • Glass bottles
  • Beverage cartons
  • Fluorescent lamps and tubes
  • Metals (tin and aluminium cans)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Small electrical appliances (even your mobile phones)
  • Plastic bottles & bags
  • Paper 

If you want to learn more about using the GREEN @ COMMUNITY check out our bestie’s page to find out more.

As it turns out, there are some great initiatives tackling Hong Kong’s waste problem; after all, if the rest of the world produced waste like Hong Kong, we would need more than four planets to live… Yikes!

Be More Mindful With Slow Fashion

We are all well-acquainted with fast fashion and its various problems, but what on earth is slow fashion? Firstly, there is no solid definition, but we need to deviate from the common belief that these two names have anything to do with time to begin with. 

Slow fashion finds much inspiration in the Slow Food Movement, which was created by Carlo Petrini in 1986 and linked together food and its ensuing pleasure with greater awareness and responsibility, both as an individual and as a community. It fiercely guards biodiversity, preserves the need for consumer information and protects cultural identities through its food. 

Similarly, slow fashion is a more peaceful, mindful way of consuming fashion – it focuses on the planet and all its people. It begins with an individual breaking down and understanding what their needs are and proceeding to address these needs in the most sustainable, ethical way, along with as much information as possible. This could mean shopping second hand and vintage, putting together a capsule wardrobe, highlighting the importance of natural, high-quality fabrics, or simply buying less.

“With increased awareness and demands for improved sustainability and ethical practices – the viscous cycle begins and ends with us”

Slow fashion is so much more to do with choice and autonomy, and along with it, bolsters our psychological need to create our own identity, communicate through our clothing and be creative; it strives to strike a balance. On the other hand, fast fashion offers zero individuality and does everything it can to disrupt said balance. It shifts focus onto quantity and frequency, hiding behind it poverty, climate issues, unfair production practices and completely disengages us from reality. 

Slow fashion allows companies themselves to plan accordingly and build upon profound, mutually beneficial partnerships in order to provide employees with more secure employment and improved opportunities. The concept of slower fashion has gained traction in recent years, and we are lucky enough to be provided with a great deal of options. With increased awareness and demands for improved sustainability and ethical practices – the viscous cycle begins and ends with us. Remember that.

Here’s what slow fashion in Hong Kong has to offer. 

Basics for Basics was founded by Kayla Wong and focuses on… who guessed it? Basics. Comfy t-shirts, jumpers and tank tops are the name of the game here, all designed in-house, produced in ethically mandated factories and aim to reduce carbon footprint. Its limited stock is a result of relying on excess fabric found, which is used in conjunction in its collections, with organic cotton that is certified by FLO and GOTS. A passionate supporter of fair trade, Basics for Basics also works with local programme Hands On Hong Kong, whose mission is to empower us all to volunteer. 

Eschewing the standard pre-order protocol for material sourcing, Love From Blue searches for deadstock yarn to use in its folky knitwear, whose designs are dictated by said deadstock yarn and inspired by the landscapes of Hong Kong. Its first collection named “Drop 1” features the cosy Bay sweater, which pays homage to memories of camping in Tai Long Wan.

A thoughtful company at heart, Love From Blue was founded by Grace Lant and promises a mindful, closed-loop approach to its collections. 

For proof slow and sustainable fashion isn’t simply relegated to basic pieces, fashion designer Angus Tsui began his journey with an unyielding intention to be environmentally sustainable without compromising his futuristic, avant-garde ideas and silhouettes. 

Having already reached international acclaim since its 2014 inception, Tsui worked closely with upcycling pioneers such as Orsola de Castro to offer a fashion line that undertakes a sustainable journey from supply chain, design, sourcing, production, retailing, campaign and even after-sale services. Moreover, Tsui established an educational charity named ANCares, which works closely with NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, Redress and St. James Settlement to present workshops and exhibitions. He has, in the past, partnered with companies such as Cathay Pacific, Swire Properties and H&M, for example, to work on upcycled projects using various sustainable materials. 

Support local and go SLOW.