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Inside Hong Kong's first zero-waste cafe

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 03:27s - Published
Inside Hong Kong's first zero-waste cafe

Inside Hong Kong's first zero-waste cafe

MANA!

Cafe is trying to tackle Hong Kong's escalating trash problem by providing meals that are fully compostable and packaging that is turned into fertiliser.

Matthew Larotonda reports.

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(SOUNDBITE) (English) MANA!

CAFE FOUNDER BOBSY GAIA, SAYING: ''Hi I’m Bobsy, and I’m the founder of MANA!

And I’ve been here Hong Kong for almost 30 years.'' Welcome to Hong Kong’s first zero-waste coffee shop – MANA!

Look around and you’ll see house plants, posters about sustainability, and eco-friendly reminders, such as: Food that doesn’t cost the Earth, Eat like it matters, Diet change not climate change, The shop was founded by Hong Kong’s leading environmental activist Bobsy Gaia back in 2011.

It aims to raise awareness about the human impact on the environment and to reduce the rubbish that is contributing to the city’s waste overflow.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MANA!

CAFE FOUNDER BOBSY GAIA, SAYING: “They drop their food wastes, leftovers, packaging into our compost bins.

It’s collected, and through an aerobic composting system, takes about 6-8 weeks, gets composted and turn into soil.” MANA!’s eco-friendly business model is based off an entirely compostable and vegan menu that consists of plant-based food like roasted vegetables and tofu wrapped in flatbread.

Its packaging can also be turned into fertiliser.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MANA!

CAFE FOUNDER BOBSY GAIA, SAYING: “Stuff like this cannot be recycled in Hong Kong, no one will recycle food contaminated packaging.

So our solution was to compost it all in one go.

And we were only capable to do this starting early 2019.

This was a major breakthrough for us as a brand to say that we are 100% compostable with all our packaging.” But going green can be a costly endeavor.

Gaia estimates roughly 5-10% of revenue is used to ensure MANA!

Produces zero waste.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MANA!

CAFE FOUNDER BOBSY GAIA, SAYING: ''This costs a lot of money, so we have to invest a lot of capital to being zero-food waste and minimum waste.

For Hong Kong, it’s very novel.

In fact, it’s pretty much pioneered the way in our city, paving the way by developing the way forward because there’s was no way where busy restarts would have its food composed or recycled properly.'' The former British colony boasts glittering skyscrapers and billion-dollar infrastructure projects, but Hong Kong is struggling with a much more mundane problem: disposing of its trash.

A city of more than 7 million people, Hong Kong deposits around two-thirds of its waste into landfills.

That’s 5.6 million tonnes annually.

Little is recycled.

In 2018, the city wasted more than 3,500 tonnes of food each day, according to government statistics.

The authorities have acknowledged their inability to cope with the problem, saying they lacked the land to develop an effective recycling industry.

But while the city’s capacity to manage waste is limited, the government has invested in different waste-handling schemes, including O-PARK, a facility which turns food waste into energy.

However, Gaia says restaurants across the board should shoulder the responsibility.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MANA!

CAFE FOUNDER BOBSY GAIA, SAYING:“We as restaurant operators must do a lot more, we have to play our part, not just restaurants but all business in reducing their waste because theres’ no such place as ‘away’, everything comes back to haunt us.”



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