Green engagements

When all’s said and done, there are more ‘green’ concerns in the city than meet the eye. Things are not as bad as some say. A seemingly innocuous news item, just before the National Day long weekend, made it all much more clear somehow. A recycling association had stopped the collection of all materials; an open-ended recycling strike had started. The Association represents 150 entities (their nature was not clarified) and involves some 1,100 persons. We suppose the latter are mostly the ‘collectors,’ those that are (or should be) refusing to collect those materials. Consequently, “more than 20 tons of rubbish are collected every day by CSR” [the rubbish collection service concessionaire] and were not being recycled. (Apparently, some older people, “responsible for the collection of materials” were not yet aware of the strike. They just left their spoils in front of the “closed recycling posts” without getting any remuneration for their work). The Official Gazette tells us that the Association is a non-profit entity, created in 2009. In Chinese it calls itself ‘Macao Green Material Recovery Association’. In Portuguese, the name is even friendlier, as the word ‘green’ is replaced by the word ‘confraternization’ without any obvious malice. Its meritorious aims are: ‘to carry forward the spirit of loving Macau’ plus the promotion of the industry’s ‘unity, friendship [and] mutual love’, not to mention, environmental awareness’. Members can be any legal resident of Macau, engaged in materials recovery. They seek the government’s support for the sector. All they need is a land slot for the collection and processing of materials. We can see the difficulties of the government here. It is not a small demand: the plot size must be equivalent to ‘several football stadiums, far from residential areas’. To compound the Association’s concerns, a (their?) warehouse is being reclaimed by the owner and will be lost by November. There are several mysteries here. On a very fundamental level: has Article 27 of the Basic Law, a subject of so much concern, been regulated yet? Can a non-profit organization declare a strike? The Association members are the undefined ‘entities’ – in which case this would look more like a lockout – or the individual collectors – in which case this would seem more akin to a trade union industrial action? Then: are there two parallel systems of collection, or do these collectors act as a kind of ‘sub-concessionaire’ of CSR? What exactly are the recycling points, and where are they located? Hopefully, someone is inspecting and assessing any impact on the environment and health. Or not? Some figures are difficult to come by. It is stated that the strike means that CSR collects some additional 20 tons per day; later, it declared that the Association would usually process some 500 tons. Where does the difference come from, where are the missing tons? How do these figures fit the official statistics on the collection of ‘recyclable’ (note they do not say recycled) materials? Too many questions… Possibly, best is really to ‘confraternize’. Open some bottles (recyclable glass, please!)