Macau Opinion | Plastic culture

But the role or the responsibility is not only the government’s. Big corporations should set the example, while the government should demand businesses comply with certain standards for saving resources and material, which are not only difficult to recycle, but are barely treated and transformed in the city into any other form than garbage proper, and that end up in a giant incineration chamber.

The government claims it only recycles 18 to 20 per cent of solid waste in the city – which is already a surprise given that the talk in town is that the local recycling garbage bins are useless. Surprisingly enough, no glass-recycling programme exists currently, after Typhoon Hato damaged the facilities in which such procedures developed – note, nearly one year ago.

Why the government is so slow in repairing the facilities and resuming the programme, is the kind of question which belongs to the political and decision-making interrogations that are typical of the city, which boil down to the lack of transparency in public communication.

To speak a language that tends more often to strike a cord here, if there is a chance of improving recycling, and there is undoubtedly potential in that, it is by highlighting its business side. Recycling is not only a trade, it cuts down operational costs for small and big companies alike, in the medium and long term.

An important obstacle then to this, is not only practical – ‘if things are working the way they are, why change them?’ – but also cultural.

The culture of expediency and urgency that permeates daily life in Macau – in the food, construction, or other businesses – is the same culture that makes plastic an omnipresent and tyrannical element of life.

The take-away culture that is intrinsic to the fast food restaurants, the plastic bags of the supermarkets, the bakeries, and the fruit shops, are signs of a society who clearly puts its values somewhere else, certainly not in improving the overall living standards for now and the years to come: it is immediate thinking and focused on the satisfaction of one’s own needs. It is egotistic.

Recycling is, therefore, not the main word in that case. Killing the plastic bag and container and bottle is the way to go.

*Editor-in-Chief, MNA