Reverse vending machines may reverse decline in local recycling industry

Have you wondered where the recyclables collected by recycling bins will go? Are they really recycled at the end of the day? In Hong Kong there are 2800 recycling bins and they collect 4 tonnes of disposals every day, out of which 1.5 tonnes are non-recyclables that’ll end up in landfills. But the 2.5 tonnes of recyclables may just share the same destiny as the local recycling industry is facing a serious decline.

In the past the collected recyclables were exported, especially to mainland China. For example in 2011, 98.5% of collected waste was exported to the mainland. However over the past years, the mainland has been tightening their waste import regulations. The prices of waste exported from Hong Kong have been dropping, causing a serious blow to the recycling industry. This year China further imposed a regulation banning the import of 24 types of solid waste, making it harder for local recyclers to survive.

The problem with the local recycling industry is that it is too dependent on waste export markets and that the recycling culture in Hong Kong is not mature enough. To improve local recycling, in 2007 some local catering enterprises launched a batch of reverse vending machines (RVMs) to facilitate recycling. RVMs are vending machines that collect used plastic bottles or other recyclables, and reward users with coupons. This encourages recycling and more importantly, it automatically processes and sorts recyclables. Countries like Norway, Finland, Germany, America, China, etc are adopting RVMs to their benefits. However unlike these places, the practice didn’t work well in Hong Kong because of its voluntary nature, insufficient reward initiatives and a lack of promotion.

If recycling with RVMs is encouraged or even made mandatory by the government, RVMs will work as well in Hong Kong as in other cities. This year a mandatory producer responsibility scheme on glass beverage containers will go into effect, which will enforce the “polluter pays” principle in treating and recycling glass beverage containers. The scheme can in fact be implemented on other recyclables like plastics, cans and so on to share the responsibility of recycling among producers, retailers, consumers, etc. RVMs can complement the scheme to ensure the quality of recyclables. This can help establish a self-sufficient local recycling eco-system and develop Hong Kong into a green smart city.


逆向自動售貨機能逆轉香港回收業困境? 

全港有2800個分類回收桶,平均每天收集4噸回收廢棄物,但當中有1.5噸是不可被回收的,要被送到堆填區,然而另外2.5噸回收物料可能亦難逃棄置堆填區的命運,因為本地的回收業正面對嚴峻的回收市場,收回的回收物料可能前無去路。

以往香港的回收物料會出口到外地,尤以中國內地市場為主,在2011年,本港出口到內地的回收物料就高達98.5%。然而,近年內地提高入口物料要求,各類回收物料價格驟跌,對本地回收業造成嚴重打擊。今年內地更進一步禁止二十四種洋垃圾進口,讓本地回收商更難經營。

從回收商面臨的困境可見,最大的問題在於香港回收業過份依賴內地市場,加上本港回收風氣亦不盛行。為了改善回收風氣,2007年幾所大型餐飲企業推出了一批逆向自動售貨機,以積分制鼓勵市民回收飲品膠樽。逆向自動售貨機 Reverse Vending Machines(RVMs),又稱智能回收機,能自動收集、分類膠樽及其他回收物品,市民投入膠樽後,售貨機會回贈現金、積分或禮品劵等。RVMs現時有多個國家採用,如挪威、芬蘭、德國、美國、中國等等,成效顯著。然而RVMs在香港卻不像在這些國家般成功,2007年的回收計劃就因自願性質、缺乏宣傳、獎勵不夠吸引等原因成效不大。

現時政府正擬議塑膠產品容器生產者責任計劃,強制性讓污染者負擔處理及回收廢棄物的責任,相信屆時RVMs能成為有效的輔助工具,不但方便市民回收廢棄物,同時提高物料的質素,幫助回收業建立一個自給自足的生態環境。

Valuable takeaways from Professor Daniel Kahneman, one of the most influential figures in behavioral finance

We usually get to see renowned figures on the TV rather than in real life. Like Nobel Laureates it’s more likely for us to hear of their names than get to know them. We might assume such knowledgeable and impactful figures as Nobel Laureates to be difficult to comprehend as their knowledge may be beyond our understanding.

But seeing Professor Daniel Kahneman’s session at the 71st CFA Institute Annual Conference overthrew the misconception; the Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences spoke in clear and easy to understand terms of thought-provoking messages. Here are my valuable takeaways from him.

On planning fallacies and ways to avoid:

  • Whenever there is judgement, there is noise.

  • Algorithms are noise-free and better than human judgement.

  • People underestimate uncertainties the market holds.

  • Optimism is everywhere when people plan.

  • Optimism is a risk.

  • The remedy is a broad view.

  • Take an outside view.

On how to be happy:

  • When there is a problem in life, ask advice before making a decision.

  • People to turn to for advice: people who like you and do not care about your feelings.

It’s wisdom to remember. What do you think?


諾貝爾經濟學獎得主丹尼爾·康納曼教授的規劃智慧

對於一些出名或權威級的人物,例如諾貝爾獎得主,我們甚少有機會與之見面及交談,所以很容易會設想這些學識淵博影響甚廣的人物的知識非我們能輕易明白。然而,有幸聽到諾貝爾經濟學獎得主丹尼爾·康納曼教授的現場分享,打破了我的謬想。

我是在第71屆CFA Institute(特許金融分析師協會)峰會上聽到丹尼爾·康納曼教授的分享的。教授是行為經濟學的權威、諾貝爾經濟學獎得主,與我們分享他的深度智慧時,由淺入深,清晰易明,實在讓我敬佩不已。

說到如何滅少規劃謬誤和作出更好的決定時,教授提出了我們常怱略的一個行為因素—隨機變動性,做決定時,我們的判斷帶有隨機變動性,即是在兩個相同的情況下,我們的判斷可以很不一樣,這種變動性會影響我們作出有誤差的決定。所以如果可行,我們應以機械演算法來替我們作判斷,因為演算法做決定時不會隨機變動,可確保無誤差預測及抉擇。

教授亦提到人們常低估市場的不確定性,還可能過分樂觀,而構成風險。我們應以一個局外的角度、全面的視野來看事情。

當被問到快樂的方法時,教授說遇到困難時,應先問人意見才作決定,應問誰意見呢?那些喜歡你但不把你的感受放在第一位的人。

教授的一席話真讓人獲益良多,你認為呢?

 

The world’s 1st blockchain-powered trade finance deal

This month saw the exciting news of HSBC and Dutch Bank ING making a commercial trade finance deal using blockchain, which was the first application of this disruptive technology in trade finance. The banks handled the transaction for the US agriculture group Cargill, for a shipment of soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia. The transaction time and paperwork exchange would normally take 5 to 10 days but the technology shortened it to 24 hours.

The transaction was completed on Corda Blockchain, a platform developed by the R3 consortium. The technology substantially cut the transaction time, allowed real-time tracking of goods and documents in a more secure manner, and facilitated instantaneous paper reconciliation. The transaction is a milestone for blockchain application in the banking industry. Let’s see what will come out of it in the future!


全球第一宗區塊鏈貿易融資

匯豐與ING銀行完成全球第一宗區塊鏈貿易融資,是區塊鏈技術首次在貿易融資交易上的應用。這次交易中,匯豐與ING銀行為食品及農業產品製造商嘉吉(Cargill)完成跨國交易,交易涉及以海運把大豆由阿根廷運到馬來西亞,區塊鏈技術把以往需時五至十天的文件往還時間縮短到二十四小時,大大節省了交易時間。

這次的交易在區塊鏈聯盟R3的Corda 區塊鏈平台上完成,不但省時,並且安全地進行實時貨品和文件追踪,以及自動對賬。這次區塊鏈技術應用是該技術在金融業應用的重大突破,為區塊鏈金融奠下一大重要里程碑

 

Stay in the east or west in Shanghai

To avoid the traffic going across the river, I chose to stay on the east bank of the Huangpu River, or Pudong, where all my meetings, exhibitions and the airport were.

It was a short trip, but packed and fruitful. This might be the beginning of a mega project. I had a nice chat with my friends the other night on how to face and handle stress. It was a good lesson learned.

Interestingly enough, we three gathered in Shanghai, flying from three different places and staying at three different hotels:

The club lounge of Double Tree was great.  I particularly like the dinner buffet.


上海之行 — 待在浦東還是浦西?

這次到上海我選擇待在浦東(Pudong),即黃埔江(Huangpu River)東岸,因為不但鄰近機場,而且我所有的會議和展覽行程都在浦東,節省了過河的交通麻煩。

整趟旅程短暫但充實,而且收穫成果,可能是個大型計劃的開始。其中一晚忙裏偷閒與朋友相聚,從朋友處學到了如何面對和舒緩壓力,受益匪淺。雖然我們朋友三人在上海碰面,但從不同地方出發,亦住在不酒店︰

從朋友的反饋得知其餘兩間酒店都極好,下次再到上海可以考慮。而我住在上海東錦江索菲特大酒店,服務不錯,酒廊酒吧十分好,我特別喜歡它的自助晚餐!