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Helping the Scavenger Community

Sep 13th, 2023

Hanson Meng


Scavenging is a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common in Hong Kong. With a population of over 7 million people, it is not uncommon to see individuals collecting discarded items such as cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and aluminum cans from the streets. Although scavenging may seem like a harmless activity, it still has its drawbacks and poses a significant issue for the city.


According to a survey conducted by the HK government in 2020 (Info.gov.hk, 2020), there are about 2000 scavengers in the city. However this number is believed to be drastically underestimated as many individuals who engage in this activity might not want to be identified or counted. The majority of these scavengers are senior citizens who are either retired or unable to find employment due to their age. Many of them rely on scavenging to support themselves and make a living.


One of the issues associated with scavenging is the impact it has on the environment. Scavengers often collect items that are not recyclable or have already been contaminated. This might lead to an increase in litter on the streets and a buildup of waste in the landfills. Furthermore, the scavengers may not dispose of their collected items properly, leading to further environmental damage.


Another issue related with scavenging is the potential danger it poses to the individuals who engage in this activity. Scavengers often collect items from busy roads and highways, putting themselves at risk of being hit by vehicles. They may also be exposed to hazardous materials such as chemicals and toxins, asbestos, or sharp objects while collecting items, which can lead up to injuries or illnesses.


In addition to the environmental and safety concerns, scavenging also has a negative impact on the city's economy. Scavengers often collect items that could have been recycled or disposed of properly, which reduces the amount of waste that can be processed by the city's waste management system. This can lead to increased costs for waste disposal and recycling, which ultimately affects taxpayers.


To address the issue of scavenging, the Hong Kong government has implemented several initiatives. In 2018, the government launched a pilot program called "Clean Recycling" to encourage proper waste disposal and recycling (Wastereduction.gov.hk, 2022). The program provides recycling bins and educational materials to residential buildings, schools, and businesses to promote responsible waste management.


The government has also introduced laws and regulations to regulate scavenging activities. In 2017, the government passed a law prohibiting scavenging in designated areas such as construction sites and private properties. The law also prohibits scavenging on public holidays and weekends to reduce the impact on traffic and public safety (Elegislation.gov.hk, 2023).


While the government's efforts to address the issue of scavenging in Hong Kong are a step in the right direction, there is still more work to be done to create a sustainable solution. This is why we need to com


e up with new and innovative solutions to support the elderly citizens who rely on scavenging as a means of income.


Our solution is to create a service that designs and manufactures a range of products made mainly of recyclable materials, such as cardboard. By using streamlined manufacturing processes such as 2D graphic design and laser cutting, we can create innovative and unique products that can be sold in schools or at markets.


The profits from the sales of these products can then be used to support the scavenger community both


financially and socially. This would provide a sustainable source of income for those who rely on scavenging and help to reduce the amount of waste available for scavengers to collect.


Furthermore, participants in this service would have the opportunity to customize, design, and assemble their own products, promoting creative thinking and providing a social outlet for elderly citizens.


By creating new and innovative solutions, we can address the issue of scavenging in Hong Kong and create a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable environment for all.






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