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Environment chief grilled over waste styrofoam boxes

2022-05-18 HKT 15:50
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  • Environment chief grilled over waste styrofoam boxes
Lawmakers on Wednesday questioned the government's handling of waste styrofoam boxes which have been spotted around town in recent months.

Heaps of styrofoam boxes carrying vegetables and fruits from the mainland to Hong Kong were discarded as mainland authorities refused to take them back for reuse, citing the Covid situation.

Officials said around 120,000 boxes arrived here every day, with a total weight of 48 tonnes.

"The 'siege' of waste styrofoam boxes has become a disaster for the environment... a mere styrofoam box shows how [the authorities] aren't taking action in terms of environmental protection policy," said Gary Chan of the DAB at the weekly Legco meeting.

In response, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said the SAR is actively communicating with mainland authorities to see if the boxes can be disinfected and sent back across the border to be reused.

Wong also said the Environmental Protection Department has been supporting more local styrofoam recycling projects financially.

"In the past, the weight of the styrofoam [boxes] recycled was less than one tonne per day.... But hard work between us and the sector has seen it increased to around seven tonnes a day," he said.

"Please understand there's a limit, because hopefully [the waste of] styrofoam is only temporary... If we invest in [the recycling business] and the supply of styrofoam vanishes, the machines will become useless. So we need to strike a balance."

Wong said authorities have stepped up efforts to remove styrofoam boxes lying around, while reusable plastic boxes are provided in wholesale markets on a trial basis to help reduce waste at source.