Mountains of newspapers, cardboard and office scrap are filling up collection points and docks to the brim in Hong Kong after China imposed a ban on imports of 24 types of rubbish, as part of an environmental campaign. Samantha Vadas reports.
Piling up with no place to go, huge mountains of waste paper are rising in Hong Kong. City docks and collection sites are overflowing as 2,500 tonnes of newspapers, cardboard and office scraps are heaped on top each day. The situation so bad, a cargo ship fleet packed with paper has been stuck at sea for weeks all because their biggest customer isn't buying. Two months ago China put a ban on the import of 24 types of rubbish, including scrap paper, as part of its campaign against "foreign garbage" and environmental pollution The domino effect is hitting businesses hard in Hong Kong, which, because of the city's lack of space, is a major exporter of second hand waste paper to China. A bulk of this used to be shipped to facilities in Southern Guangdong province, but now sits stagnant, costing the industry almost $350 thousand U.S. dollars a day, as the price for waste paper drops. (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) OWNER OF RECEPTION PAPER PLANT MR NG, SAYING: "I hope the Hong Kong government will communicate and come to a compromise with Beijing to see what can be done." But it's not just business owners who are feeling the heat. For many of the city's elderly paper collectors, their vital source of income has halved. (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) PAPER COLLECTOR, LAM POR POR, SAYING: "It's very tough, does this look easy? Not much more I can do if I don't have enough income, just have to save some here and there to be able to pay my rent." Despite enforcing the ban, it's also hurting China. As supplies shrink on the mainland the cost of paper is going up. That's bad news for everyone - from exporters to e-commerce sites - like Alibaba and even Amazon which rely heavily on packaging made in China.