Teams at Designing Hong Kong have conducted research into the opportunity for recycling at public markets. Last year, we published an article proposing to include Green@Community recycling facilities at all public markets. Government has adopted this proposal. The renovation under the Market Modernization Programme for Aberdeen Market, which is to re-open this week, was changed and space is now set aside for a recycling store.
Green@Community is a fast-growing network of recycling stores operated by Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and funded by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). To-date, many of these stores are situated in – expensive – commercial properties. The following article examines the opportunity of integrating Green@Community recycling facilities at the four public markets: Not only for the low rent, but also because it is convenient for residents.
New Green@Aberdeen in the renovated Aberdeen Market
Green@Community and the Market Modernization Programme
In 2018, the government launched a 10-year market modernization program. $2 billion is set aside for the design and renovation of outdated and often dilapidated markets. Six markets have been selected for this first phase including the Aberdeen Market, Kowloon City market, Lai Wan market, Yeung Uk Road market, Ngau Tau Kok market, and North Kwai Chung Market. Construction work started late 2021 in Aberdeen. The works have been completed and the market will reopen this week, 26 April 2023.
Markets are conveniently located retail hubs for nearby residents. In addition to recycling daily waste such as carton and Styrofoam boxes from the stall operators, markets can be used to collect recyclables from citizens who come to shop. The market modernization program offers the opportunity to build the necessary recycling facilities.
Managing the waste of markets
The refuse rooms of the outdated markets are small and unable to cope with waste and recyclables generated by the trade. At Yeung Uk Road Market, more than 60% of customers interviewed considered the current waste disposal as “not optimal”. Key concerns are the piles of polyfoam and carton boxes dumped inside and outside markets. These obstruct pathways and result in hygiene concerns over mosquitoes and rodents.
The foam and cardboard boxes which are in good shape are either re-used by the stall holders or collected by recyclers from the market cleaners. More recently, broken polyfoam boxes at some markets are collected and processed by a government supported scheme (“Missing Link”).
Views from stall operators
In interviews conducted by Designing Hong Kong, most stall operators supported our proposal to collect recyclables. They noted though that the recycling store must be well managed and operate efficiently. Their key concern is hygiene especially since they experienced that residents were reluctant to visit the market during the pandemic.
“It’s important to have proper management and maintenance. If the staff is not doing their work properly this whole thing would be a failure.” Another owner added that “Workers at the recycling station need to be efficient, if not, those recyclables will pile up and worsen the market’s hygiene.”
The stall operators who agreed to a Green@Community facility hoped that it would attract more citizens to the market. Others hoped that it would make the markets cleaner or supported recycling in general. The objecting stall operators considered dedicating space to recycling as unnecessary as it may impact the size of their stalls. Others were neutral as market renovation was yet to start.
Views from public
Residents often conceive the existing Green@Community stores to be inconvenient due to insufficient branches and their remote location. The public gave a warm welcome to our proposal. 84% of interviewees agreed on recycling facilities in the modernized public markets.
Importantly, convenient recycling stations will alter citizens’ daily routines. In the survey we conducted in Ngau Tau Kok, 58% of interviewees never recycled before. Yet, 66% of them claimed that they are willing to recycle once a recycling station is set up in the market. “I can carry the recycling materials to the market and bring the food back home.”
As markets are the focal point of nearby communities, it is not difficult to understand why people will consider it appropriate to include Green@Community facilities in markets. The revised modernization program will help shape the renovated market into a true community hub for Aberdeen.
Urging Government to include recycling at all public markets
The research conducted by Designing Hong Kong has shown that the public supports integrating Green@Community facilities into the public markets. The inclusion of recycling facilities in the Aberdeen Market refurbishment mirrors the newly established collaboration between the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Environmental Protection Department. As the Market Modernization Scheme only covers a small number of markets, we urge government to expeditiously introduce recycling at all markets Hong Kong.
街市都可以做回收? — 由「綠在香港仔」開始
政府已於2018年開展了一個爲期十年的街市現代化計劃，投資20億元以更新公衆街市。 此計劃將為過時和破舊的街市更新室內設計和設施。 為此，六個街市，包括九龍城街市、荔灣街市、楊屋道街市、牛頭角街市、香港仔街市及北葵涌街市列入街市現代化計劃之中。香港仔街市已於2021年開始更新工程，現時工程已經完成，並於2023年4月26日重新開放。
更重要的是，方便的回收點可以改變市民的日常生活習慣。 在我們在牛頭角進行的訪問中，58% 的受訪者表示自己從未回收過廢物。 然而，66% 的受訪者表示，一旦於街市裏面建立了綠色回收點，他們願意進行回收。有受訪者更表示，「我可以將回收物帶到街市，再把食材帶回家。」
我們進行的研究顯示公眾普遍支持將 「綠在區區」 設施納入街市。在香港仔街市的翻新工程中加入回收設施，反映了食物環境衛生署與環境保護署之間新建立的合作關係。 由於街市現代化計劃只涵蓋少數街市，我們促請政府盡快研究在香港所有街市設立類似的設施，方便市民及檔主。