Food packaging for thought

By Debby Cheng – Campaigns Officer


For years, I’ve started my day the same way: with a bowl of cereal. But last week, I noticed something that I had not before: my cereal’s packaging.

Usually, cereal goes soggy fast because you can’t close the bag that it comes in. Some people might throw out the cereal because it no longer tastes good. What’s more, often the packaging – a foil bag plus a box – goes straight into the garbage bin after just one use. That’s a lot of waste.

This packaging is different. First, it’s resealable, so my cereal stays crunchy longer.

Secondly, though it’s only a bag, it’s made of a sturdy plastic, so the cereal doesn’t get crushed on its way to my supermarket from the UK. Because the packaging is so durable, I can use it again and again. In fact, without thinking, I’ve collected a bunch.

Leftover food is one of the hot topics today. The State Grain Administration says Mainland China wastes about 200 billion yuan worth of food, equal to 80 billion kilograms of grain – that could feed 250 million people for an entire year. Hong Kong, meanwhile, wastes 3,584 tonnes of food every day, and in Macau, food waste accounts for 20 to 40 per cent of domestic waste (link only available in Chinese).

Many governments and the food industry are making an effort to study how to minimise food waste. In Australia, even the packaging industry is talking about how to reduce it in different parts of the production chain.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology released a fascinating study, “The role of packaging in minimising food waste in the supply chain of the future”. It looks at how to prevent food from becoming damaged and as a consequence unmarketable and condemned to garbage heap.

The cereal bags that I have amassed over time stand in a row in my kitchen. Since the packaging is so durable, I use them to store other foods after I have finished the cereal.

The cereal bags that I have amassed over time stand in a row in my kitchen. Since they are so durable, I use them to store other foods after I have finished the cereal.

Waste increases costs for the food industry. Food packaging can prevent a lot of food waste. Take one example: modified atmosphere packaging. By injecting carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen into the container, ethylene can be absorbed. Lowering the concentration of this hormone, which causes produce to ripen, can increase the food’s shelf life. These and other new packaging technologies might require investment, but the food industry should definitely consider them.

Of course, there are also easy ways to package food to prevent it from becoming waste. Australian banana farmers often discuss the reasons for damage in the course of delivery with packaging companies, the government department responsible for the primary industry, and retailers, in order to come up with solutions. In the past, the farmers used cardboard boxes. Four years ago, they started putting the bananas into cloth bags and transporting them in plastic crates instead of cardboard boxes. This prevented the fruit from bruising, increased air circulation and regulated the temperature, effectively increasing shelf life.

After reading this article, I started noticing the packaging for the other food in my kitchen and thinking: Are these examples of good ways to package food?

The world wastes 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year. When more than 800 million people remain hungry in the world, this is just wrong. The global population is expected to rise by 2 billion and the demand for food by over 70 per cent. Something needs to be done to fix the broken food system.

Working on the GROW campaign has been tremendously rewarding. We’ve engaged with food banks that redistribute excess food, exposed the problem of land grabs in the sugarcane supply chain, challenged university students to devise innovative recipes to re-use surplus food, and more. (Check out what we’re up to here!) I hope this will bring us one step closer to a food system where everyone always has enough to eat.

But we can’t do it alone. We need everyone to make an effort, and food packaging designers, the food producers and companies that use their innovations, and the supermarkets that carry their items, can all play a part.

 Debby Cheng is a campaigns officer at Oxfam. She is responsible for advocacy work relating to policies to reduce food waste in the public and private sectors.















麥麗萍: 樂施行動組2012的參加者。
呂嘉豪、羅雅芳: 來自香港教育學院的實習生。在實習期間,推廣「糧食公義」倡議運動,探索當中的教育元素。

In the face of global hunger, Hong Kong must stop wasting food

By Mayling Chan – International Programme Director at Oxfam Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, like any modern city that tends to rely on globally sourced imported food, it’s hard to visualise the link between global issues of food insecurity and our own issues of food waste. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates consumer-based food waste in industrialised countries is almost as high as the total net food production of sub-Saharan Africa, that is, 230 million tonnes a year.

In fact, being able to control and reduce the volume of our food waste is a concrete way to contribute to global food security, which is characterised by the accessibility and availability of nutrition and food for all, through sustainable production, collection, distribution, marketing and equitable trade systems.

Having said that, modern cities have learned to be more self-sufficient in food provision over the past two decades. For example, farms have sprouted up in and around the city areas in Singapore, Havana, New York, Beijing, Caracas and elsewhere. Their purpose is to ensure greater adaptation to a world undergoing climatic changes that have affected production and crop yields.

Overconsumption of food seems to have become a daily habit for many. The people of Hong Kong produce more than 3,500 tonnes of food waste every day. On average we consume 1.12kg of food a day, yet in every three-person household, about 1kg of food will end up in a landfill.

It is encouraging to see that a handful of people in our city are trying to close the food waste loop. We consume locally produced food: local pork is sold in markets in Sha Tin and Tai Po, for example; farmed fish is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike; and locally grown vegetables are sold in agricultural markets that have sprung up in many districts, including commercial areas like Central and Taikoo Place.

Almost 900 million people on the planet go hungry everyday, revealing the severity of the global food problem.

This circular trend of local production and consumption supports the economy, which creates jobs. On top of this, it promotes a culture of resilience for our food and trade systems at all times, and a feeling of community, which celebrates the actions and culture to grow, rather than waste.

Few of us perhaps have a clear picture of how the people of Hong Kong can grow food, including raising small livestock. As of March 2012, there were 1,872 vegetable farms covering 415 hectares that were registered under a government scheme in Hong Kong. There are many more that have not registered that are scattered around on outlying islands, in food gardens and on the rooftops of many buildings across the city.

In Hong Kong, 4,600 people are directly involved in land-based agriculture and 11,000 in fisheries. The fact is that, due to a lack of support for a modern agricultural policy, overall production has fallen in the sector by some 24 per cent compared with a decade ago. This includes the raising of pigs, which has been marginalised; in 2011, the industry shrank to a fifth of what it was in 2001.

Researchers have recently looked at the potential for Hong Kong’s fisheries and livestock sectors to use feed processed from food waste, given that its production and distribution are subject to stringent health inspections and regulations. Take pigs as an example. It is estimated that there are 80,000 pigs being raised on Hong Kong farms. Every day, each pig consumes around 4kg of feed, or a total of 320 tonnes. By processing our food waste into pig feed, more than 2,100 tonnes could be put to good use, clearly demonstrating the market potential and value of food waste, pig feed and live pigs.

To encourage modest and sustainable consumption, Oxfam runs its Grow campaign all over the world. The purpose is to persuade policymakers to assist small farms and families by providing resources and helping them secure control over essentials like water and seeds to sustain a global network of food production.

Today, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the world’s 500 million smallholder farms support around two billion people, almost one third of the total world population. However, many are among the world’s poorest people and, sadly, often go hungry. Thus, it is heartening to see that even impoverished countries like North Korea, where Oxfam Hong Kong works, has been able to grow more food in the past 10 years, closing its food gap by 60 per cent between 2002 and 2012, even with difficulties in obtaining sufficient fertilisers and fuel.

On annual World Food Day today, the UN estimates that 842 million people, around one in eight in the world, suffer from chronic hunger, regularly not getting enough food for an active life. We must see beyond our own desires, and consider our food waste and landfill sites in Hong Kong.

The actions of local people in collecting food waste on Lantau and Cheung Chau are encouraging. These initiatives have succeeded in reducing food waste gradually through education and by turning it into useful products to grow vegetables, and also creating jobs for women and retirees.

This local economy loop is happening in New York, Singapore and Tokyo; they are role models for Hong Kong to foster a more resilient and innovative society that grows food, rather than wastes it.








  • 協助社群做好防災準備及提升自救能力,例如協助村民加高房子的地台,阻擋洪水湧入民居;建造及整修水災避難所;安裝及維修食水的管井;建立天氣預報系統、修築防水堤壩等。
  • 推動農民成立災害管理小組,透過技能培訓及防禦建設,促進他們應付災害的自救能力及社群互助精神。
  • 推行協助社群適應氣候變化的項目,例如引進「水上苗圃」,讓農民在水災期間仍能耕種;引進多樣化、高產值及能抵禦洪水的農作物、混合畜牧及耕種的生產模式,以及種植期較短的稻米,以確保農民在洪水來臨前能夠有所收成等。






作者:余振威,樂施會項目經理 – 人道救援及災害管理







在距離杜布洛克數英里外,負責操作水泵的阿里努力從井中抽水。他用了一小時,把抽出來的水裝載在由樂施會與當地合作夥伴 Gayo Pastoralist Development Initiative 提供、貯水量達1萬3千公升的水車上,然後再經過三至四小時的崎嶇路程,把水送到城鎮裡及荒野中的家庭手中。






Siti 地區並沒有保障牧民擁有和使用放牧土地和相關水資源的相關政策,外來商人可以透過很多方法,以獲得這些寶貴的天然資源,包括聘用本地牧人畜牧,甚至向村領 導交涉,或直接向政府官員收買使用權。問題的癥結,是政府部門沒有行使應用的權力,訂下清晰可循的附例,以合符公義的原則去分配這些當地人賴以為生的資 源,導致富裕農民和城鎮居民輕易便可掠奪牧地。

埃塞俄比亞Siti地區的村民以畜牧為生,當地不時受旱災侵襲,嚴重打擊當地人的生計,政府帶頭立法管理水資源,有助促進當地人獲得較可持續發展的生計。攝影: 余振威





扭轉糧食危機 食品企業責無旁貸










完善七大範疇政策 保障小農生計權益








想了解更多有關「品牌背後」倡議運動及十大公司的評分,請瀏覽「品牌背後」網頁: 或樂施會網頁:




撰文: 黃安娜

這個過程 –





作品「消.音 」-- 除可用眼看,更可以耳聽。你聽到那消失了的「七分一」嗎?


作品「#wrongtagproject」是一個行動 – 用手機拍下放上在instragram分享,加入一堆無關的關鍵字tag,就可與世界各地的人分享這個「美麗的誤會」,看到消失的「七分一」。








2012年11月1至5日(10:00 am – 10:00 pm)

置富都會 (香港九龍紅磡都會道6號) (紅磡港鐵站C出口)



作者: 黃安娜,樂施會傳訊幹事












作者:李嘉敏,樂施會政策倡議統籌 – 經濟公義






剛看了關於美國六十年代民權運動的電影“The Help”(推介!),在敬佩當時人的勇氣之餘,也在想那個時候是不是仍有人認為跟黑奴年代相比,這些黑人家庭傭工其實也活得不錯?她們有自己的居所,而部分人的小孩更有機會上大學 – 儘管他們每天均受到嚴重的歧視。這個論點可能也不是全錯,但事實說明了當時的社會並不接受這種歧視的情況,並不滿足於這種程度的「改善」。此時此地,我們的個人意識是怎樣,今天的香港社會如何看本地貧窮?怎麼樣的境況才算是一個「問題」?

得到敬愛的老師在大學時代的啟蒙,才知道原來有各種的政治哲學理論去辨識個人與社會的關係,和我們對他人的責任 – 對住在深水埗劏房每天工作十五小時卻仍無法改善生活的她,對在雲南山區因要幹活而不能上學的留守小孩們,對在索馬里饑荒中掙扎求存的他。我愛家庭,並且是個奉公守法的市民,但對其他一切漠不關心 – 我有錯嗎?這總是一個讓我困惑的問題。正如老師所說,我不是造學問的材料,我無法思索到什麼才是真理,亦不懂得用理論去說服別人。對我來說,一切好像只是自然反應。看到了,便想投入去,希望情況得到改善,哪怕只是微不足道得可笑的一點點。我只是想更多人能像我那樣幸福。有時候,我不想批判,只希望能有更多人一起嘗試去瞭解這個社會,擁抱這個世界。或許,對現實的瞭解會為我們的想法帶來一點衝擊,使我們擁有真正的個人意識。



作者: 洪凱兒,樂施會總裁辦公室經理


“Water is life”

“Oxfam is good for coming”
For coming to drill water
They have drilled us clean water!”

“When there is no water there is no life. Water is life.” – Helen Ewoton

Helen Ewoton lives in Turkana, Kenya. In mid-2011, a major food crisis affecting 13 million people was declared across parts of East Africa. Although the crisis is far from over, and rebuilding lives and livelihoods will take years, moments like those captured in this incredible video of a Turkana community celebrating a borehole we installed for them are a vivid reminder of how together, we can make a difference.

To learn more about Oxfam’s work in East Africa: