Monday 24 August 2009

Opinions & Proverbs: Only when one is at the end of the road does one finally feel despair

Hi people! I'm finally back from my busy schedule and I can finally update my blog as usual. Maybe I will catch up with the entries I have missed??

Today I read a news article about the wastage of recyclable materials by McDonald’s.

This is nothing new really. If you recall that about 5 or so years ago, McDonald’s Taiwan has already put recycle bins next to the waste bins for the diners to dispose the packaging separately. At that time, I was so so impressed by the act and actually thought that McDonald’s Hong Kong would soon follow its fellow franchisee’s footsteps. And it proves me too simple, always naïve.

I always tried not to eat McDonald’s, mainly because it doesn’t taste half as good as Burger King (BK) but it is also not as environmental friendly as BK. When I eat in BK, they only have one wax wrapper for each burger, and I always bring the recyclable paper and plastic products to the nearby recycle bins to dispose. As of McDonald’s, look at the salad boxes, burger boxes, happy meal boxes, plastic knives and forks. Having one meal there and I have to carry so many things to the recycle bins.

McDonald’s has joined EPD’s Rechargeable Battery Recycling Scheme by putting recycling bins in all its branches, but what does that have to do with the tonnes of plastics and paper waste you produce?

I strongly agree with Green Sense project officer Sun Ho- yan asking the government to impose a 50-cent levy (meaning tax) on each disposable item. Just look at how well it works for the plastic bags? I am sorry to say, but it seems to me that Hong Kong people, including me, are very money-minded, thus the Chinese proverb, "Only when one is at the end of the road does one finally feel despair" -- “bùjiàn guāncái bù diàolèi”, is the perfect clue for solving a lot of problems in Hong Kong.

What is “the end of the road”? Needless to state the obvious.

So, what do I mean by “the end of the road”?

Articles quoted here:

McDonald's big wrap is the last straw, say greenies

Phila Siu

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fast-food giant McDonald's has thrown out 400 million food containers, knives, forks and spoons in the past three years, according to environmental group Green Sense. And the group is calling on the government to get tough and charge a levy of 50 HK cents on each item.
Green Sense based its claim on a lunchtime tracking survey of 50 McDonald's restaurants it began in 2006.

The group also said that while some food chains have made efforts to cut down on the use of plastic utensils, Hong Kong McDonald's has shown little or no inclination toward environmental protection.

But McDonald's said last night that environmental protection has always been its top priority.
The company said it has adopted a "3R policy" - reduce, reuse and recycle - and that the consumption of foam boxes has dropped 80 percent since it started using paper wrappers.
McDonald's also said it is working with the Environmental Protection Department to recycle waste oil and turn it into biodiesel fuel.

It claims to be the first fast-food chain to join the EPD's Rechargeable Battery Recycling Scheme, with recycle bins placed in all its branches for this purpose.

Green Sense said it approached McDonald's, KFC and Yoshinoya some time ago to rein in the use of disposable utensils and that some branches of KFC and Yoshinoya have already replaced disposable cups or spoons with non-disposable ones.

KFC also uses reusable spoons and forks in its breakfast specials.

Green Sense project officer Sun Ho- yan said McDonald's has scaled down its only environmental campaign, "No Straw Day," to make it voluntary. McDonald's said this was meant to be a long-term program.

Sun said some burgers not only come with a paper wrap, but also a box, which is totally unnecessary.

The situation became worse after the fast-food chain launched a 24-hour delivery service last year, with some branches now open around the clock.

She called on the government to consider a 50 cent levy on each disposable item, starting with cups, lunch boxes and bowls. If this helps reduce wastage, levies could then also be placed on knives, forks and spoons. That means a consumer who buys a meal in a fast-food shop would have to pay a dollar or two more to cover the container and utensils.
Green Sense urged McDonald's to set up a five-year timetable to reduce by half the usage of disposable food containers and to follow the environmental practice of its branches in Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

"There are recycle bins in McDonald's in Taiwan and Japan, and most eating utensils in Korea are not disposable. Hong Kong McDonald's is probably the worst offender in Asia," Sun said.
But parents should also bear some responsibility and should think twice before taking their children to meals in restaurants where plastic or foam materials are used, Sun said.