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Hong Kong people take challenges in rescuing food from landfills

Reporters: Emilie Lui, Kayi Tsang, Cynthia Sit 

The government, NGOs and social enterprises have made great effort to combat food waste problem, as dumping huge amount of food wastes in landfills which are reaching their full capacity soon is not sustainable.

About 3,600 tonnes of food waste were landfilled each day in 2016, according to the government statistics. The huge number constituted 35 per cent of all municipal solid waste disposed of at landfills, making food waste as the largest municipal solid waste category in Hong Kong. 

The government has coordinated various food waste projects as the current practice of disposing food waste in landfills is not environmentally sustainable. One of the well-known schemes is the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign launched since May 2013. With the orange big-eyed cartoon “Big Waster” mascot promoting food reduction concepts, citizens have gradually become familiar with the campaign and paid more attention to food waste recovery.

Apart from government plans, some local organizations and businesses  are also trying to take up social responsibilities by initiating other innovative methods. 

GreenPrice is a social enterprise founded by four university students in 2016. The co-founders decided to sell short-dated packaged food and bottled drinks after learning from  some food products are still safe to be consumed after “best before” dates. According to a research by Hong Kong Baptist University in 2014, microbial presence levels in food products reaching the “best before” dates are acceptable, which means food products expiring “best before” dates are safe for human consumption. The shop owners believe promoting this concept to the public can help reduce food waste.

Food Angel, a non-governmental organization, rescues edible surplus food from the catering industry and turns it into fresh and hot meals in their central kitchen with a set of strict safety protocols. Meal boxes are then served to elderly in need in the community. To encourage public participation in food recycling, the charity has also set up food collection boxes in 15 shopping malls to accept food donations. Food Angel pays a great effort to turn food waste  into a meaningful social devotion, which they aim to utilise any food resources they collect to provide assistance the needy .