Letters to the Editor, November 20, 2017

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 4:47pm

Plastic waste puts pressure on landfills

A recent survey by Greenpeace has pointed out that the ­volume of plastic waste generated at popular fast-food outlets in the city is enormous (“66pc use plastic when dining, fuelling waste ­crisis”, November 15).

The environmental group estimates that at least 490,000 plastic disposable items are handed out each day at the city’s ­McDonald’s outlets combined.

Add to that the other forms of plastic waste and it is easy to see why our landfills are under so much pressure. They are near capacity, as this is a staggering amount of discarded plastic.

What is worse, the plastic ­recycling rate has decreased, from 32 per cent in 2012 to 11 per cent in 2015, ­because of weaker demand for raw materials on the mainland. That makes it doubly important that we cut back on plastic waste, as it is harmful to the environment, especially if it is not biodegradable.

Shops and restaurants, especially fast food eateries, have to find ways to cut back on the ­plastic bags, cups and utensils they give out to customers.

Kwok Wing-yee, Kowloon Tong

Urge diners to bring their own cutlery

It is disturbing to learn the ­results of a Greenpeace poll, which found that 66 per cent of respondents used plastic utensils and 68 per cent used plastic straws when ­dining out.

The use of disposable plastic is an increasing trend, and this is tough on our landfills which are close to saturation point.

I believe that fast food chains should encourage customers to bring their own cutlery, rather than use disposable plastic knives and forks. Or they could offer discounts to diners who ­return the plastic cutlery, rather than throw it away. Also, all these eateries should make sure they use biodegradable plastic.

Trisha Tobar, Tseung Kwan O

Many factors are affecting the climate

Tong Hang-wai, of the Hong Kong Observatory, in asserting that 2016 was the warmest year on record, fails to qualify this by adding that 2016 was an El Niño year, when temperatures are naturally warmer (“Climate change is a global-scale phenomenon”, November 14).

And 2017 is already being touted as the warmest non-El Niño year on record, that is, not as warm as 2016. They have all bases ­covered.

We have yet to receive an ­acknowledgement from the ­Observatory’s scientific officers that there are many factors ­affecting the climate, not just human activity. OK, let us agree that human activity is the primary cause, but be honest and ­acknowledge the other factors, many of which we have yet to fully understand and have no control over. The increase in Hong Kong temperatures over decades and centuries, which Mr Tong quotes, is minuscule. Does he seriously believe these indicate a doomsday scenario if they continue to rise at this rate?

The Intergovernmental ­Panel on Climate Change is ­primarily dependent on input from a relatively small number of meteorological establishments around the world, which are generally not staffed by ­scientists whose discipline is long-range climate prediction or study, but whose discipline is short-term weather forecasting which they have yet to perfect.

Whenever scientific officers from the Observatory respond to comments through these ­columns, they follow the party line to the letter.

G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling

Hongkongers have become unduly selfish

I agree with your correspondents who say that attitudes are changing in Hong Kong, and not for the ­better.

People in the city have ­become more competitive and less caring. As some correspondents have pointed out, commuters will often rush for empty seats in an MTR carriage, ignoring co-passengers who really need them, such as the elderly or heavily pregnant women.

There is no doubt that a lot of Hongkongers want to come first and strive for the best.

Some even think that winning is the most important thing in life and they feel deeply ­humiliated if they lose.

For some individuals, such an attitude could have its ­origins in childhood, when pushy parents told them they had to strive to be the best in everything.

As Luisa Tam points out in her article (“Would you hold the lift door for a stranger? The ­answer says a lot”, November 14), ­somewhere along the way we have forgotten aspects of the can-do Lion Rock spirit that drove Hongkongers to excellence in the early 1970s.

Back then, “There was no ‘us’ and ‘them’; people understood the importance of community affinity and camaraderie”.

It seems that good manners and caring for your fellow citizens are no longer considered ­important values by so many people in Hong Kong, and I think that is a shame.

Katniss Lam, Sha Tin

Focus on the road, not your smartphone

I keep reading press reports about yet another traffic ­accident, and it would seem that there are now more crashes than ever before in Hong Kong.

These crashes may involve private cars, taxis, minibuses, buses or trucks. But I wonder why Hong Kong has so many of these accidents. While drivers can be at fault, for instance, if they had been speeding, sometimes careless ­pedestrians can also be to blame.

I often see people walking across a road when the red “don’t walk” light is on at a ­pedestrian crossing, with their eyes glued to their smartphone ­instead of looking out for ­approaching vehicles.

If a car is going too fast, it may not be able to stop in time, causing a terrible accident.

However, it is not just careless ­pedestrians, impatient drivers caught in traffic can also cause accidents. All road users, whether drivers or pedestrians, need to take greater care.

People should be looking at the road and not their phones when they cross or drive.

Miki Chung Chi-yan, Tiu Keng Leng