Race trashed over poor recycling

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am


Organisers of last week's Club Crew World Championship dragon boat races have been criticised for failing to offer sufficient recycling facilities - not least by a team who used recycling to pay their way to the event.

Last week's event sponsors include a bottled water company, but many of the 4,700 participants from 20 countries who joined the 380 races along the Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront say they were forced to dump their bottles in the garbage.

Members of the One Piece Drakon Sangres team, from the Philippines, even took to collecting the bottles - an activity they know all about after raising the cash for their trip by collecting plastic for recycling at 27 pesos (HK$5) per kilogram.

'Our fund-raising was via the collection of plastic bottles by our team, families and friends, which we turn in for cash in Manila,' said Karen Ong-Factorlarin, team organiser. 'When we saw all of the empty bottles at the end of the day, we helped to clean them up along the spectators' area, but unfortunately, we didn't have an easy way to return these for money as we did back home.'

Dumped plastic bottles posed problems for the waste management teams at sites used for the races, the competitors said.

Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance, a registered non-profit environmental organisation said the dragon boat races had been an exceptional opportunity to showcase a modern, sustainable, sporting event in a 'world city,' with a message on waste reduction and recycling that all could learn from. However, the opportunity was lost.

'What the One Piece Drakon Sangres team did was a great example of how a community group can benefit from looking at waste in a new way, and valuing it as a resource. But there wasn't even any on-site recycling being done and the bottles were just being dumped into overflowing bins,' Woodring said

'We can only hope that Hong Kong can learn from this experience, as our landfills are reaching capacity, yet the emphasis put on recycling and waste creation at the individual level is still far behind that of other countries in the region.'

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, one of the organisers of the event, said a number of recycling bins for the collection of plastic bottles were provided along the race course.

Collection of plastic bottles for recycling was also done on a regular basis during the race period by the appointed cleaning agency.

Some 380,000 spectators watched the races in an event that received HK$6.5 million in support from the government's Mega Events Fund.

The recycling row isn't the first controversy to dog the event. Last week, there were claims the Hong Kong Island Paddle Club had allowed 'ringers' to join its team, in breach of international rules, although the accusations were rejected by the International Dragon Boat Federation.

It was the first time the world championships had taken place in Hong Kong.


participants, representing 20 countries, took part in the Club Crew World Championship dragon boat races in Hong Kong last weekend