When combined with creativity, waste glass can be given a new lease of life as a musical instrument or home decoration. But the process of recycling the glass can also provide new hope and new skills to those involved.
Last November, the Wanchai District Council, the Hong Kong Police Force (Wanchai District) and the Methodist Centre jointly launched the Discarded Bottles Recycling Pilot Project.
Deputy District Commander of Wanchai District, Danko Au Yeung Chiu-kong says the aim of this project is to improve social order. There had been concerns about fighting and violent crime in an area where glass bottles littered the pavement, especially around bars. Local residents complained about the danger posed by shards of broken glass on the ground every morning, and about the noise caused by breaking glass and fighting.
“If we ignore the management, order and security in the street, this gives an impression that nobody is maintaining social order,” says Au Yeung.
Since the Discarded Bottles Recycling Pilot Project was launched, residents have reported that the situation has improved.
Under the scheme, four recycling bins were placed in the Wanchai bar area and four former young offenders were recruited to collect bottles from the area in the early hours of the morning.
In the past, these youngsters had been regarded as troublemakers who had poor relations with the police. Ironically, they now see the police as their protectors.
Norman Lo Kam-wah, general secretary of the Methodist Centre, the organisation that recruited and trained them, says the young men feel safe when they see officers patrolling the streets during their shifts between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.. The youngsters seem to have learnt a lot from their new jobs.
Jackie, one of the recruits, appreciates the fact that he has more chances to speak English when he explains what they are doing to foreigners. “There is a sense of satisfaction,” he says.
Working in bar areas has taught the young men how to deal with drunk people, to stay calm and get on with their work. Jackie recalls they once came across a drunk man who mimicked their actions, picking up a piece of rubbish beside a glass bottle and throwing it at them. They could do nothing but continue their work.
Jackie has also learnt to be forgiving. Some people may ask him about what he and his partners are doing, whether they are paid to do it and some even ask if they are performing a Community Service Order. He says he always answers them politely because they may simply not understand their job.
Jackie’s team-mate Ah Fung has a full-time job in a printing shop so it is especially difficult for him to wake up early. He manages to do so because he does not want to be late for work. He says that it is a sense of responsibility.