Ban on bottled water at HKU the right move towards a greener world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 April, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 2017, 9:31pm

I refer to the report on the University of Hong Kong’s ban on bottled water at its Pok Fu Lam campus (“HKU bans sales of bottled water to help planet”, March 23).

I absolutely support the campus ban on bottled water in HKU. Not only because of the positive effect it has on reducing waste such as plastic bottles, but also because it increases public awareness of the need to use fewer disposables.

The scheme certainly has some limitations, such as the inconvenience in providing water at large events.

Yet is mere inconvenience a valid excuse to hold back from protecting our planet through conservation, especially when there are so many creative and feasible solutions to tackle the limitations of the scheme?

The campus ban on bottled water will have significant effects on reducing waste. Some five million bottles are said to be thrown out each day in Hong Kong. These are dumped in the city’s landfills and will take hundreds of years to decompose.

We all know most of Hong Kong’s landfills are close to maximum capacity. Therefore, reducing the use of disposables is the only way out.

The campus ban also increases public awareness about environmental protection. As Ann Kildahl, head of HKU’s sustainability office, pointed out: “It was important for individuals and institutions to think less about how much [we] would need to pay but how much we can reduce.”

University is the training ground for thousands of young minds, and cultivating a high awareness towards environment protection in universities means creating a better environmental future for Hong Kong.

The scheme does have its limitations; for instance, when it comes to supplying water at large events. But there are solutions to these. The installation of filtered-water dispensers and the promotion of a “bring your own bottle” scheme can effectively encourage people to reduce the use of plastic.

As most people support the move in principle, there’s no reason to make inconvenience an excuse to back down. Reducing waste and increasing public awareness of environmental conservation is essential and crucial in order to attain sustainable development.

Moreover, the campus ban also acts as a prelude to the government’s waste charging scheme, as Hong Kong continues on the road to environmental conservation.

Rachel Fu, Tsing Yi