1. About the brand
Missing Link: Hong Kong's few polyfoam recycling company
“Missing Link” is a polyfoam recycling scheme run by the Tsuen Wan District Youth Development Association and funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) that collects discarded foam boxes, protective wrapping, fruit nets, and all other domestic polyfoam wastes every day. On average they can recycle up to 600 – 800KG of polyfoam daily, which is around 0.55% of Hong Kong’s daily polyfoam waste (around 90 tonnes of polyfoam go to landfill every day).
Andy Li, the founder, pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Hazards and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Waste Management in the UK. He then decided to come back and help the city in the frontline of the community. The polyfoam recycling business is considered a high-cost industry, yet polyfoam waste is a pressing problem in Hong Kong.
They sort and compress the foams through a hot melting process, reducing their size to a 90:1 ratio, then exported them to the next recycling factory to process them into small pellets. However, there is a large volume of foam waste plus how they are mixed with other garbage and labels has led to an increase in difficulty to sort and process.
If the final pellets are not pure enough, the efforts would be put to waste as they cannot be sold. Normally, if a 26-ton container is filled with compressed blocks of white, uncontaminated grade A foam plastic, the recycling price can reach more than 8,000 to 10,000 yuan.
WHAT’S GOING ON NOW:
They are actively seeking ways to increase funding and support, despite the huge difficulty to do so. They also partner with different green start-ups and green-conscious enterprises (e.g. Patagonia, Green Price, The Loops, EcoSage etc.) so to generate more publicity and support6
2. About the founders
Andy Li Ka Ming
Complete the recycling cycle, promote “take care of your own rubbish”, run as a business
“Missing Link” means there’s a gap between the whole recycling chain. There are a lot of resources put into collecting the recycling wastes in comparison to the actual recycling factories. He hopes to raise more awareness of their challenges and need for support alongside doing actual work.
He also hopes recycling can be treated seriously as a sustainable business, not just a non-profit expenditure for society.
3. Challenges and opportunity
Business scaling made difficult due to limited public and governmental support
Andy expressed the long process to greenlight his first funding, not to mention the future ones. Along with the forceful relocation of local recycling factories, it is a reflection of how the government has provided limited support and attention to these recycling factories.
They also faced blockages from the public to collect the poly foams. For example, in residential areas and wet markets where property councilers often find it a hassle to liaise solutions to collect the wastes, not to mention transporting as these are costs they are unwilling to bear.
Through organizing public visits and volunteer programs, Andy aims to generate more awareness of this missing link behind all the sustainability grand schemes.
He also doesn’t give up on promulgating solutions to save costs for different stakeholders. For example, persuading the government and other parties to set up foam heat treat machines in wet markets to save transportation cost.
4. Brand Development Timeline
Andy submitted a proposal to the government and was granted to set up “Missing Link”, and began machine setup and technological development
2016 – 2019
Started to promote their business to the public more, ultilizing factory space to demonstrate polyfoam treatment process and the recycle ecosystem
2019 – now
Stabilize business, help the government to recycle poly foams from their central collection points, and work closely with public sectors and wet markets to set up poly foam treatment machines so to maximize recycling volumes and save transport costs.