The Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Tse Chin-wan, on Friday said he will help Hong Kong's only beverage carton recycler find a new place to operate, after it was told to leave its base at an industrial estate.
The recycler, Mil Mill, has also been given a six-month lease extension until June next year at the Yuen Long site, which is being developed into a high-tech park.
Tse told an RTHK programme that the government has been liaising with the firm's landlord, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks.
"I myself talked with the CEO of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks. Of course I hope to provide Mil Mill with the maximum assistance and support, but I understand the Science and Technology Parks may have their own limits and difficulties, and they have decided to extend the lease for six months," he said.
Tse said he hopes Mil Mill can continue to serve Hong Kong and he will help it find a new location. But he said authorities would try to find a contractor to recycle beverage cartons if Mil Mill stopped operating, saying it would only take a few months to have the required set-up ready at a recycling plant.
Meanwhile, the firm's founder, Harold Yip, said he will also keep looking for a new place, adding that he will continue his business for as long as possible.
"Our intention from the very beginning has been to help Hong Kong recycle and reduce waste. We are a new business but it is a meaningful one with prospects," he said.
He said Mil Mill is currently the only pulp mill in Hong Kong, and questioned whether authorities could find a new recycler to take over the role in a few months.
A representative of the recycling industry, for his part, said he believes no other local companies would be willing to recycle beverage cartons.
The chairman of the Recycled Materials & Re-production Business General Association, Jacky Lau, said local firms do not have enough space to recycle cartons. He added that it is neither an easy nor lucrative business.