Local environmental group Greeners Action has found that less than 39 per cent of the materials founds in Hong Kong’s 4-in-1 recycling bins had been disposed of correctly.

This month, the group inspected 23 roadside recycling bins located in areas with high pedestrian flows across the city, conducting two-hour long observations and calculating the number of items disposed of in the bins.

greeners action
Photo: Greeners Action.

In a study released on Thursday, the group said that they found trash such as tissues, toothbrushes, banana skins, and ice-cream cones in the bins, with some passersby even spitting into them.

Of of 1,321 items recorded, only 510 – or 38.6 per cent of items – were correctly placed in the recycling bins. Another 17.5 per cent were recyclable materials that are placed in the wrong category. 16.2 per cent of the items were regular trash, and 27.6 were too dirty or contaminated to be recycled.

The organisation also revealed that trash and recyclable materials – including glass bottles, cardboard boxes, and umbrellas – were discovered outside of 56.5 per cent of recycling bins. The immediate vicinity of many of the bins was often lacking in hygiene, the group said.

four-in-one bins
Photo: Greeners Action.

The group concluded that the public lacks discipline in sorting recycling without government supervision and that the efficiency of the bins was low.

It urged the government to carry out a full review, as well as to move recycling bins into government buildings with surveillance – such as libraries and community halls – to avoid abuse.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.