Established in 2019, The Loops is a Hong Kong-based company that uses mobile phone application to provide paid door-to-door recycling services and further treatment of various kinds of cleansed waste from residential and commercial customers.
In 2020, 1.54 million tonnes of municipal solid waste was recovered for recycling in Hong Kong, which accounted for 28% of the total amount (Environmental Protection Department, 2021). Many recyclables were then left to decompose, causing extra burden to the landfills that are already on the brink of overflowing. For example, 831,600 tonnes of plastic waste was disposed of at landfills, but of which only 107,800 tonnes was recovered, meaning that the recovery rate for plastic waste was only about 13%. Apart from environmental concerns, such a low recovery rate also reveals a waste of raw materials. Recyclables like plastics, metal and glass require large amounts of energy in the manufacturing process. Yet a majority of them are dumped in landfills, squandering energy and valuable materials that can be reused again.
The Loops developed a mobile phone application for users who live in designated housing estates in Tseung Kwan O and Whampoa to register and pay for weekly door-to-door recycling services. The company gives its customers a Nordic basket to place the cleansed recyclables outside the door for its collectors to pick up once a week, whilst uncleansed recyclables will not be collected. After collection, all the recycled waste is delivered to its centre for sorting and processing. The clean selected items are then sent to different local recycling plants for further treatment. Regarding the types of recyclables, The Loops collects 16 types of recyclables, which include 90% of the daily waste people produced. They comprise common recyclables such as plastic (plastic bags, plastic bottles, pump dispensers), metals, paper, glass; and materials that are rarely recycled including tetra pak, product protection (ice pack, bubble wrap) and polymers like BOPP, PVC and polyfoam. To nurture the culture of recycling, The Loops welcomes people to bring recyclables to its centre in San Po Kong for recycling. People can choose to pay for the services or help the company sort out recyclables for an hour.
The Loops has been active in promoting the culture of recycling and circular economy in Hong Kong through expanding its business and collaborating with different partners. In 2021, The Loops collected over 30,000 kilograms of recyclables from customers. The Loops has also cooperated with different district organizations to recycle and reuse certain types of items, for example poon choi containers to dog shelters in the New Territories and ice packs for Tseung Kwan O restaurants selling takeaway iced beverages. Moreover, Loops has worked with various commercial partners in the territory. For instance, participating in the “Go Korea, Go Green” promotion organized by Korea Tourism Organization in Hong Kong in 2021 for green tourism along with a Hong Kong-wide plastic bottle recycling campaign. In 2022, The Loops hopes to expand its recycling network to Hong Kong Island to improve the recycling rate of Hong Kong.
Edigest. (2021, January 22). “Volatile epidemic greatly increased the number of disposable cutlery, The Loops provides paid door-to-door recycling, Self-helping own place.“ (疫情反覆令即棄餐具數量暴增 The Loops收費上門回收 自己地方自己救). Retrieved at: https://www.edigest.hk/%e8%81%b7%e5%a0%b4/%e7%96%ab%e6%83%85%e5%8f%8d%e8%a6%86-%e5%8d%b3%e6%a3%84%e9%a4%90%e5%85%b7-%e6%95%b8%e9%87%8f%e6%9a%b4%e5%a2%9e-theloops-%e6%94%b6%e8%b2%bb-%e4%b8%8a%e9%96%80%e5%9b%9e%e6%94%b6-233774/7/.
Environmental Protection Department. (2021). Hong Kong 2020 Waste Statistics - At a glance. Retrieved at: https://www.wastereduction.gov.hk/sites/default/files/msw2020_ataglance.pdf.