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Sprite Plastic Bottle



The non-returnable plastic bottles

Before recycling, a glass bottle can be reused up to 30 times.

– The public consultation paper of the “beverage bottles producer responsibility”

Indeed, glass bottles are reusable, but the advantages of the plastic ones are too good to be neglected by the business people.


  • Cost of manufacturing plastic bottles is a few cents each, the priciest plastic bottle only costs 5% of a glass counterpart;

  • A plastic bottle only weighs one tenth of the glass counterpart;

  • It is not a pity to throw away plastic bottles, on the contrary, reusing glass bottles will incur recycling and cleaning costs.


Convenient plastic bottles have also boosted sales. From 2013 to 2017, PET-bottled drinks sales had increased by 4.1% per year; while glass-bottled drinks had dropped by 2% every year. In 2017 alone, Hong Kong sold 1.4 billion PET-bottled drinks and 47 million glass- bottled drinks, which is just 3.36% of the former.

Once the “deposit-and-return” system was done away with, it was a point of no return. “No deposit, no return” has become the new norm.


Are recyclable plastic bottles that sinful?

To some extent, plastic bottles are not a total evil. It is light-weighted, can save energy in transportation, thereby help cutting carbon emissions.

In contrast with glass bottles, recycling plastic bottles involves a lot more than simply disinfection. For the sake of hygiene and food safety, typical plastic derived from recycling of plastic bottles cannot be used to manufacture beverage containers. Plastic bottles, upon arrival to a recycling facility, will go through a series of processes including washing, shredding and granulating; then the processed material can be made into non-food-grade items.

This is known as down-cycling, the material cycle goes lower and lower in value.

Speaking like a businessman: If there weren’t any legislation or incentives; to manufacturers, recycling is never tempting where only a fool will do so. On the contrary, leaving consumers to dispose of plastic bottles to bins or landfills is the smartest business idea.


Who pays for the environment?

Our neighbours have been sacrificing their lives to pay the environmental costs. You see plastics filling up stomachs of birds and fishes, none of them have got any advantages from the invention of plastic. Taking in fumes from burning plastic waste or microplastics contained in drinking water and fishes, we are paying the price with our health too!

Many countries have found this condition unfair, their citizens support legal tools to hold manufacturers responsible for the waste they produced. 25 countries/cities have switched back to applying a bottle deposit-and-return system, reaching an average recycling rate of 73% for PET bottles. Nations like Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and South Korea have even reached a recycling rate of over 90%.

Source: Press Release 《按樽費 1 元回收率估計可達 75%》
The recovery rate here refers to the exported plastic bottles, which refers to the amount of plastic bottles being sent abroad for recycling.   Environmental Protection Department has not included the local recycling rate, which is much lower than the export recovery rate.

What about Hong Kong?

The answer to this great question is a 0.2% export recycling rate.

You have not got it wrong, in 2018, only 0.2% of the PET bottles were collected in Hong Kong for recycling abroad.


Hong Kong:
How to improve its PET bottle recycling rate, from 0.2% to 95%?

While different systems for recovery of bottles are properly working well around the world,
our government is still considering an option for Hong Kong.

The Government —

The Government affirmed the feasibility to introduce a PRS on plastic beverage containers, and have decided to press ahead first with the introduction of a PRS for plastic beverage containers which account for about 60% of the overall plastic containers disposed of in Hong Kong. These plastic beverage containers are of a higher recyclable value and are relatively easy to be cleansed for proper recycling. The Government will also consider introducing similar arrangement to that of “deposit-refund system” implemented in other jurisdictions by providing an economic incentive to encourage public to return used plastic beverage containers for recycling, and to explore the application of Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) to enhance the recovery efficiency of plastic beverage containers, taking into account the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using such equipment and the space constraints of Hong Kong. In this relation, The Government is preparing to launch a pilot scheme on the application of RVM in 2nd half of 2019 to assess its effectiveness in collection of waste plastic beverage containers.

Enterprises —

In the lack of an effective driving force from policies and being the source of the plastic bottle production, beverage producers have been dodging from aggressive recycling and reduction measures. Until 2018, a few leaders of the industry launched "Drink Without Waste"and promised to recycle 70% - 90% of single-use beverage packaging by 2025. Their strategies will focus on single-use beverage packaging:


install beverage dispensers, bring your own bottle


regulate packaging standards


implement a cash-on-return scheme


build state-of-the-art recycling facilities


Story of Design: Green means environmentally friendly?

When it comes to green, we would think it is environmentally friendly. However, the recycling industry thinks that plastic bottles with color are not good. UK’s plastic waste reportindicates that the value of colored plastic bottles is only one-third of transparent plastic bottles, resulting from the fact that transparent plastic bottles are easier to be colored. That is similar to a saying: white could be transformed into black easily, while black could not be transformed into white easily.

One thing that is more unwelcome than green is black plastic which is known as problematic plastic. You would find that black plastic is widely used in the pre-packaging of meats, fruits, and microwave foods in supermarkets and convenience stores. This phenomenon is related to Consumer Psychology, foods would look yummier and more high-class with black plastic packaging. The problem is that this “high-class” black plastic could not be recognized by recycling sorting machines, so black plastic would be regarded as rubbish.

In 2017, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) indicated that black plastic should not be used as it could not be recycled so it is rubbish. In the last year, Marks & Spencer take the initiative in following this appeal. Also, Sprite took off its 58 years old green uniform, using transparent plastic bottles at the end of last year. South Korea imposed a new law, barring the use of colored plastic bottles in beverages.

It turns out that transparency is the new green!





How to fulfill our civic responsibility in the plastic catastrophe?