Hong Kong is a city with a population of about 7.1 million people and a popular dining culture. With various kinds of restaurants, from different local and traditional cuisines to international special tasting, people do not only enjoy the different flavors of food but as well waste a lot of it, 1/3 of solid waste is food in Hong Kong.
It is a common traditional practice among Chinese people such as having gatherings at the round table with families and friends filled with plates and plates of food especially during occasions such as weddings, the Chinese New Year and so on. People will order more food than the average number of people seated at the table because of traditional thoughts, ‘The more food, the better’ for a better image of themselves.
This reason being of the reasons to food wastage in Hong Kong is why about 3,200 tons of food are sent to landfills every day making it the size of 120 double decker buses. The commercial and industrial food waste has doubled in recent years in Hong Kong, as well especially fast food chains, such as the ‘head’ of the fast food, McDonald’s. Supermarkets dispose about 29 tones edible food per day. Because of all this food wastage being sent to the landfills, the remaining capacities of Hong Kong’s three landfills will be exhausted by this year, 2018. Since food wastage is the third-greatest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China. In Hong Kong, the food wasted goes to landfills, and the decomposition of this organic waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.
Affecting Hong Kong
In 2012, there were 9,278 tons of food disposed of at landfills each day. Of these, about 3,337 tones (36%) were food waste, constituting the largest category being landfilled. Among the food waste disposed of daily, some 809 tons were generated from commercial and industrial sources such as restaurants, hotels, wet markets, food production and processing industries. In recent years, the amount of food waste arising has increased steadily from less than 400 tons per day in 2002 to over 800 tons per day till 2012 and the trend is still rising. Not only is the food being wasted but the landfills in Hong Kong are also being affected at the same time as land is limited in Hong Kong for landfills, and there is already problem with landfills in Hong Kong. By wasting food, we are also throwing in the trash all these natural and economic resources. It means also that by saving food, we are saving biodiversity, given that uneaten food vainly utilizes land that could have been preserved.
Government Policies and Quotes
To tackle with the food wastage problem in Hong Kong, the government had set up a plan called ‘A Food Waste & Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong 2014-2022’. It is a blueprint on food and yard waste which articulates Hong Kong’s stance with respect to organic waste and how the Government is tackling the issue in the coming years. The plan will help reduce the per capita municipal solid waste disposal rate and encourages citizens in Hong Kong who go to work, school or are at home to work hard to reduce the daily waste.
The now Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam said: “One of my responsibilities in this term of government is to provide steer to the environment bureau in the overall mainstreaming of organic waste reduction and treatment. The Steering Committee to Promote Sustainable Development of the Recycling Industry that I chair, among other duties, provides an internal platform to align more effectively the work of government departments in waste management, including the management of organic waste”.
To make the plan even more effective, the strategy for food waste had four main components known as mobilizing the community by preventing and reducing food waste at source before food become waste and to donate surplus food to people. To promote food waste separation by incentivizing separation, by recycling and treating separated food waste by turning food waste into renewable energy and converting food waste residue to compost to create a soil supplement and finally by treating non-separated food waste and final disposal by providing waste-to-energy treatment that includes non-separated food waste for recovery of energy and disposal as last resort at landﬁlls.
Education is a very important key step to promote knowledge and teach others about the problems around us, just like food wastage. The main target audience for education should be children and teenagers since adults and the elderly do not go to schools nor have a lot of time to pay attention to these problems.
Because of the young generation, they can learn, work together, share with their friends and family members at home who will also learn from them since learning has no age. By this, the awareness of food wastage can be spread and everyone can work together by taking a small step and making it into a big one.
Also, advertisements, leaflets and banners can be hung around in the public, streets and parks to grab the public’s attention. They can be hung and promotes under residential buildings. By this, more and more people can learn and work together.
Food waste is an urgent matter that requires everyone’s attention. The Hong Kong government has realized the seriousness of food waste and has taken actions to fix the problem. How schools are assisted and some programs for reducing food waste in Hong Kong were discussed in this entry. The government, schools, and other institutions and individuals can do much more to address this issue.